Sue Wilsher, author of When My Ship Comes In, makes an emotional return to 1950s EssexTilbury, 1950s. The Empire is a boarding house run by Vi, Doris's mother - the Empire Girls of the title. When Doris becomes pregnant out of marriage, she is kicked out of the house and forced to fend for herself. Desperate to look after her daughter, she takes any job going. She falls in with the Windrush immigrants and finds herself helping one to a new life in Britain.