"I hope she will smile, feel recognised and proud"

The Bletchley Circle Director Sarah Harding on her mother’s wartime secret

Sarah Harding, Director of the second two-part story in series two of the hit ITV drama, The Bletchley Circle, says “One of the first things my mother ever taught me was to spell my name, in Morse.”

Dorothy Harding, nee Thompson, was a Wireless Operator / Morse slip reader at Bletchley Park 1943-1945. Sarah believes a musical ear helped her to listen accurately to Morse code. “I always thought everyone at Bletchley Park was Oxbridge educated, and mathematicians. Although there were a lot of very bright women, absolute accuracy, tenaciousness and focus were important skills too. My mother recognised certain operators - she said she could recognise his thumb.”

It was a happy coincidence that Sarah had a personal connection to Bletchley Park when The Bletchley Circle script landed on her desk, and she says it’s been a delight to work on a story in which “You can see women characters thinking. They’re not trying to please each other, they’re on a mission.”

Sarah has had a long and distinguished career directing theatre and TV dramas including Coronation Street, Queer as Folk and Agatha Christie’s Marple and Poirot. The plight of the characters in The Bletchley Circle, who’d been valued and important during the war but were then expected to go back to being housewives, and had to keep the secret of what they had achieved, spoke to Sarah on a personal level. She says “My mother is 91 now. Just after her 90th birthday I applied for her commemorative badge and certificate. When it came she said ‘What’s all this about? I didn’t do anything’, in that classic self deprecating way that people do, and I said ‘David Cameron thanks you for the war effort, you haven’t just been a housewife and mother, you have contributed this.’”

Now, she hopes her mother has enjoyed the series. In an exclusive interview with the Bletchley Park Podcast, she said “I hope she will smile, feel recognised and proud.” You can hear more from Sarah Harding in the February episode and in a Podcast Extra out now.

More video, slideshows and news items for The Bletchley Circle Series Two.

Director, Sarah Harding