Lucy Fleming, the daughter of Brief Encounter star Celia Johnson, is bringing a poignant show about enduring love to Dorchester Corn Exchange. She tells Joanna Davis more.

The prospect of interviewing Lucy Fleming is an overwhelming one.

Daughter of a legend of the silver screen and niece of the author who created James Bond, Lucy has had plenty of success in her own right in 70s post-apocalyptic TV drama Survivors and has clocked up numerous appearances on the small screen - Mr Bean, Cold Warrior and Wycliffe among them.

Lucy will bring a romantic, funny and very touching portrait of life during the early 1940s to Dorchester Corn Exchange. Posting Letters to the Moon features readings of wartime letters between Oscar-nominated actress Celia Johnson (Brief Encounter) and her explorer and writer husband Peter Fleming (brother of James Bond creator Ian Fleming).

The letters read by their daughter Lucy and her husband Simon Williams (Justin in The Archers, EastEnders, Upstairs Downstairs) are full of love and warmth and we get an insight into a young mother’s life whose husband has gone to war.

With Lucy's warm, lively greeting radiating down the phone line I know an entertaining interview will ensue.

She tells men that the idea for Posting Letters to the Moon first came about when Lucy found some notes her sister made when she wrote a biography of their mother Celia Johnson's life.

"I thought 'this is fascinating' she said. "I hadn't read mother's letters too soon after she died. I got them typed up and the war years seemed like the obvious choice of when to focus upon."

It didn't take long for the show - which is continually honed by Lucy and Simon - to become a success.

Lucy said: "We've done quite a few shows and we've been able to find out what people's favourite story arc is and what the more poignant letters are."

The show even travelled to New York to an off-Broadway theatre for three weeks where it was performed as part of an Anglophile season.

Simon is no stranger to vocal performance. He has been cast in popular radio soap The Archers since 2014 as Justin Elliott with Lucy also making an appearance in Ambridge as Miranda, the depressed wife of Justin.

"The character I played was a bit of a cow," she said. "But Simon's is an ongoing character. The fanbase for The Archers is extraordinary."

I ask Lucy if she's learnt a lot about love and marriage from the letters.

"I have learned a lot," she said. "It's a real love story. I was reading them more than 20 years after my mother had died. You can also learn a lot about life during the war. It tells of enduring a tough time while using humour. They had to deal with lots of things like no television broadcasts and radio broadcasts not coming on until 9pm and the rationing of things like petrol."

Touring Posting Letters to the Moon around the UK has been a pleasure for the couple, she said.

"It's been great fun travelling around together, we have lots of giggles. The audience seem to be so appreciative of the story of the war and what life was like then."

The letters are full of lots of little fascinating details - they tell of Celia learning to drive a tractor, becoming an auxiliary police woman in Henley-on-Thames and coping with a large isolated house packed with eight evacuated children.

I ask Lucy if she can put her finger on why people are still so fascinated by her mother's role in Brief Encounter - a film made in1945 - and why the by chance meeting in a railway waiting room still resonates today.

She said: "I think when David Lean (director of Brief Encounter) and Noel Coward (playwright of Still Life, which the film is based upon), came together it became something special. It was this little film at the time and it went on to become a classic.

"It was made in early days for film and it was quite a big deal for my mum. She'd been doing ministry of information films to pay the bills and ended doing a screen test for this film.

"She went up to Noel Coward at a party which was very unlike her and she ended up doing a screen test for Brief Encounter."

And thus, history was born. Celia Johnson went on to embody a woman who became a flag bearer for a generation of women enduring staid loveless marriages who dreamed of a chance encounter with a man who made them feel alive, much like Trevor Howard's character does in Brief Encounter.

I ask Lucy if there is humour and sadness in the letters in equal measure.

"They are full of little fun jokes," she says. "They didn't know we were going to win the war. A lot of the time my mum didn't know where my father was. She'd be writing to him saying 'I haven't had a letter from you for ages'."

With Peter Fleming working for military intelligence and posted to India and the Far East during the war, writing to him was like sending letters 'as far away as the moon', Celia noted in a letter. And with this observation, the title of the production came easily to Lucy.

As a society, we've lost the art of letter writing, Lucy said.

"It's sad that people don't really write to each other any more. Where do all these emails go? They go into the cloud or you just get rid of them. Most of my mum's letters were typed and they were typed badly but at least they were kept.

"Because of the official secrets act there was a lot that couldn't be said in his letters. He wrote many of them in a secret code for my mother. He wrote an extraordinary letter explaining about about a horrendous incident with a glider."

Lucy, who spent part of her childhood in New Zealand, says she is looking forward to bringing the show to Dorset, which she describes as 'a lovely place'.

She said: "I went to school in Dorset at Crichel, I'd been there for one or two terms and it then got moved to Wiltshire.

"Dorset is a beautiful county and every time I visit I'm always struck by what a charming place it is. There's also all the wonderful Thomas Hardy associated places."

Posting Letters to the Moon has appealed to a wide cross section of people, Lucy tells me.

"It especially appeals to an older audience who know what we're talking about. Younger people have commented on how fascinating they find it.

"Quite often at the end of the show I will find myself chatting to people and a lot of them say 'I'm going to dig out my grandfather's letters and see what I can find out."

I can't end the conversation without mentioning James Bond! I ask Lucy what she thinks of the ever-increasing speculation about who will be the new James Bond to replace Daniel Craig. The latest name to be touted around is McMafia star James Norton.

She replies: "These films take so long to make, I don't think the producers will be selecting anyone yet. They'll be thinking 'perhaps we should get an unknown younger person.'

"It's the literary Bond I'm really interested in. Although I can't really comment on who should be Bond, I think they always choose a Bond who's right for the time. Daniel Craig is perfect for the current generation."

However, Lucy tells me that she's seen the script for the final Bond film starring Daniel Craig and famously written by Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She is sworn to secrecy about the contents and she can tell me that, and I can picture the glint in her eye here, 'it's good'.

*Posting Letters to the Moon, Dorchester Corn Exchange, Friday, February 21, 8pm. Call Dorchester Arts box office on 01305 266926 for tickets.