A while back I compared Michael Morpugo’s mawkish (but highly successful) children’s book Private Peaceful unfavourably with the ethically alert television series Doctor Who.
That judgement was confirmed by tonight’s episode of the series. It was set in New York of 1930. In the Hooverville shanty town built by the unemployed, one character reflected ruefully that he had gone to fight for his country thirteen years before, but that the one thing he’d learned from the experience was that a man needed to stand together with his comrades. Another character said that what he’d learnt from the War was that you had to concentrate on your own survival, and never mind what happened to the others.
If one of the episode’s bright young viewers noticed these two attitudes, and started to wonder how one experience could affect two men in such radically different ways, he or she would have learnt something more important about the Great War than any insights that ccould be gained from the wallow in self-pity produced by the Children’s Laureate.
(By the way, the chap who wanted to survive at any expense finished up being spectacularly absorbed into a Dalek. Great television!)