Back from London, I’ve now watched Wednesday’s TV film of The Wipers Times.
Regular readers know that usually when there’s a Great War drama on the telly, I tend to snarl a bit before blogging rancorously about the things they’ve got wrong. We’ve had so many duds (Birdsong, The Village…) that I had almost come to believe that writers taking on the War must be forced by binding contract to be ludicrous.
This one was different – pure pleasure from start to finish. The writers (Ian Hislop and Nick Newman) were loyal to the spirit of the paper, and the sketches dramatising Wipers Times articles and adverts were genuinely funny.
Better than that, though, the presentation of the soldiers was credible, especially Roberts and Pearson, the two editors.. These were soldiers for the duration only, civilians in uniform who had brought their sardonic sense of humour to the Western Front with them, as a way of coping. Their satire was not ‘anti-War’, just a statement of how the War looked to a soldier who had not left his intelligence at home.
There was no shirking the nastiness of war, and I liked the use of the ‘My Chum’ poem to give expression to the deeper feelings that otherwise were just a subtext.
If the centenary produces a few others as good as this, we’re in for a treat.