Blackpool’s Jenna Coleman to star in Winston Churchill-inspired TV drama The War Rooms


A Lancashire actor and former Doctor Who star is due to star in a Second World War drama.

Jenna Coleman will play the role of Joan Bright, who ran Winston Churchill’s Whitehall bunker during in the war and is believed to be the inspiration for Miss Moneypenny in Ian Fleming’s James Bond series.

Blackpool-born Coleman, who recently featured in BBC’s The Serpent, where she played a leading role, will be working with David Parfitt on the Churchill-inspired drama, called The War Rooms.

Oscar-winning producer Parfitt, who famously worked on the feature film Shakespeare in Love, is due to deliver The War Rooms through London-based Trademark Films and UK-US company Atlantic Nomad.

Based on Bright’s memoir The Inner Circle: A View of War at the Top, the drama will follow Bright as she works underground during the war.

Each series will cover some 12 to 18 months of the world war from inside Churchill’s major operations, from Dunkirk, to the Battle of Britain and D-Day.

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“Joan Bright was never going to live a conventional life a young woman who lived her war days under the official secrets act, undercover and underground in the war rooms,” Coleman told film publication Deadline.

“This story is so compelling not only because of her unique and liberal mind, wryness of spirit and curiosity to live, but because of the opportunity to examine this endlessly fascinating period of time through an intimate and human lens.

“The closeness and proximity of days and nights lived within this small space, the carriers of the truth amidst the oblivion of propaganda above.

“The beauty and fragility of human connection when living through a time when no one knows what tomorrow will bring.

“I’m so excited to unearth these hidden lives and at a time where it feels so shockingly relevant right now.”



Jenna Coleman appeared in Emmerdale as Jasmine Thomas and now you can see her in The Serpent
Jenna Coleman appeared in Emmerdale as Jasmine Thomas and now you can see her in The Serpent

Jenna-Louise Coleman (now more commonly known simply as Jenna Coleman) was born in Blackpool on April, 26, 1986, the daughter of Karen and Keith Coleman. She has an older brother named Ben.

She was actually given her name by her grandma who named her partially after Jenna Wade, a character in the popular American soap Dallas. It seems that, even at birth, Jenna was destined for stardom.

She attended Arnold School in Blackpool, where she was head girl and played an active role in the regional theatre company In Yer Space. When she was only 10 years old, Jenna played the role of Bridesmaid in the play Summer Holiday.

At 18, she had a starring role in the play Crystal Clear at the Edinburgh Festival for which she won an award.

It was then that her professional career began after producers approached her to take part in ITV soap Emmerdale. Jenna turned down a place at the University of York studying English to take up the role of Jasmine Thomas in 2005.

Jenna’s portrayal of the teen was well received by critics and she scooped several award nominations during her tenure on the soap.



The new drama is based on the war room of Sir Winston Churchill.
The new drama is based on the war room of Sir Winston Churchill.
(Image: AP)

At the National Television Awards 2006, she was nominated for the Most Popular Newcomer award and received a nomination for Best Newcomer at the 2007 British Soap Awards.

At the 2009 British Soap Awards, Jenna was nominated for the Best Actress, Sexiest Female, and Best Dramatic Performance awards. She also received a nomination for the “Best Actress” award from the TV Choice Awards.

In the spring of 2009, joined Waterloo Road, as Lindsay James and subsequently left Emmerdale.

After several roles in BBC dramas, Jenna made her feature film debut in 2011 after she appeared briefly in the Marvel hit Captain America: The First Avenger as a woman called Connie.

Jenna’s big break came in 2012 when she was cast in Doctor Who. Then producer Steven Moffat confirmed at a press conference that the Blackpool actor would play the companion of the Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith, having previously appeared in a one-off role in the show.

Playing the role of Clara Oswald, Jenna was a regular feature on the BBC sci-fi show, acting alongside Matt Smith, and his successor Peter Capaldi.

Jenna left Doctor Who in 2015, ready to embark on her biggest role yet, that of Queen Victoria in an eight-part ITV drama.



Jenna Coleman stars as Queen Victoria I.
Jenna Coleman stars as Queen Victoria I.
(Image: ITV)

For Jenna this was a turning point in her career. When interviewed for BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Coleman argued that this role meant she was able to break out of her supposed ‘box’ as a northern working-class character that Emmerdale put her in.

In 2016 Jenna played a major role in Me Before You, acting alongside Game of Thrones stars Emilia Clarke and Charles Dance.

She has since featured in four series of the ITV drama about Queen Victoria and was most recently involved in the Netflix and BBC drama The Serpent, a dramatisation of the life of convicted serial killer Charles Sobhraj.

She is currently on set for an upcoming feature film called Klokkenluider (Dutch for whistleblower) after filming began in late February.

The War Rooms will be penned by Moving On’s David Chidlow and produced by Parfitt, who just won two Oscars for The Father.

Bright, who was the former girlfriend of James Bond author Ian Fleming, was awarded an OBE in 1946 for her work during the war and died in 2008.

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