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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

A Television Play of the 1960s/70s


Uncle George

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I saw this thread

 

earlier today and thought of a play I saw as a boy (and never since) which has stayed with me for over forty years.

 

It is the summer of 1914, and a young private soldier spends his last afternoon on leave with his fiancee before going to France. We see them in a bucolic setting in glorious sunshine, enjoying each others' company. He is in uniform. But at the end of the scene the music suddenly turns ominous, and we see a battered Brodie lying on the ground behind them.

 

But this is 1914: a Brodie has no place there. But that's the point: he is being haunted by his future self. We see more of the ghostly soldier watching the couple, and learn that the soldier will be killed later in the war.

 

Does anyone else remember this? 

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George,

Not that exact scenario, but I do remember a (?late 1970s) drama which was similar - a farm hand considering enlistment in 1914 is haunted by his future self, a gassed Tommy.  His girlfriend seems to be in on the act as well, trying to dissuade him until in the (nearly) last scene, he sees her trying to console his gasping, khaki clad future self.  

 

His Brodie helmet appears as something chucked away by his future self, which local boys find and use as a basin for scrumping apples - and which his present self puzzles over when he chases them off.  He eventually realises his fate and is trying to tell his unwitting pals he won't be enlisting with them when they override his protests and drag him aboard a cart which is going off to town to the recruiting office.

 

Sound familiar? I thought it was one of the BBC "Ghost Story For Christmas" tales, but Wiki says it isn't.  Very like their style, though.  

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  Now-another question for those who are among the 400 or so TV licence holders in the UK still watching in black and white.

Another play-perhaps a "Play for Today". Perhaps broadcast in 1964 on the 50th anniversary.

    Scene is the first few weeks of the war in France. A young Private is court-martialled for feigning death to escape capture and then stabbing to death an inquisitive German soldier. Court-Martial is by the British army. Whole of plot is about "gentlemanly" behaviour in war- and the extended irony that the TV viewer has of knowing what was to come in the way of horrors in the war.A commentary on the mindset of British Regular officers of 1914-or,at least, an assumption of that in the minds of 1960s scriptwriters. Rather the same trick of "Fin de Siecle" and outmodishness of morals as in the James Mason swansong "The Shooting Party"

     Seem to remember that one of the senior British officers-perhaps the Colonel of the battalion-was played by Peter Jeffery.And quite realistic with the sound of distant shellfire in many of the scenes.

   Any ideas?

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2 hours ago, clive_hughes said:

George,

Not that exact scenario, but I do remember a (?late 1970s) drama which was similar - a farm hand considering enlistment in 1914 is haunted by his future self, a gassed Tommy.  His girlfriend seems to be in on the act as well, trying to dissuade him until in the (nearly) last scene, he sees her trying to console his gasping, khaki clad future self.  

 

His Brodie helmet appears as something chucked away by his future self, which local boys find and use as a basin for scrumping apples - and which his present self puzzles over when he chases them off.  He eventually realises his fate and is trying to tell his unwitting pals he won't be enlisting with them when they override his protests and drag him aboard a cart which is going off to town to the recruiting office.

 

Sound familiar? I thought it was one of the BBC "Ghost Story For Christmas" tales, but Wiki says it isn't.  Very like their style, though.  

 

Many thanks Clive, yes I'm sure that's the play I saw - the boys using the Brodie as a basin for apples - yes indeed!

 

My guess would have been 1972ish, but I guess that goes to show the frailties of memory!

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  Now-another question for those who are among the 400 or so TV licence holders in the UK still watching in black and white.

Another play-perhaps a "Play for Today". Perhaps broadcast in 1964 on the 50th anniversary.

    Scene is the first few weeks of the war in France. A young Private is court-martialled for feigning death to escape capture and then stabbing to death an inquisitive German soldier. Court-Martial is by the British army. Whole of plot is about "gentlemanly" behaviour in war- and the extended irony that the TV viewer has of knowing what was to come in the way of horrors in the war.A commentary on the mindset of British Regular officers of 1914-or,at least, an assumption of that in the minds of 1960s scriptwriters. Rather the same trick of "Fin de Siecle" and outmodishness of morals as in the James Mason swansong "The Shooting Party"

     Seem to remember that one of the senior British officers-perhaps the Colonel of the battalion-was played by Peter Jeffery.And quite realistic with the sound of distant shellfire in many of the scenes.

   Any ideas?

I can't find this anywhere. There is nothing apparent in Peter Jeffrey's IMDb page:

 

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0420312/

 

The nearest I could find is the 1964 film 'King and Country' with Tom Courtenay and Dirk Bogarde. It had been televised a couple of years earlier, apparently, as 'The Case of Private Hamp'. But this was on Australian TV:

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_and_Country

 

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   Thanks UG- I must be mistaken about the Peter Jeffrey role- as I could not find it on IMDB either. yet my memory is clear!!

No,not "King and Country"- good film, obviously from a play (Beating the trapped rat to death was a little contrived). Good to see a pre-Rumpole Leo McKern looking just like...........,well, er....Rumpole in army uniform. The cynical bit I remember most is that of Cyril Luckham as the battalion commander, handing over the condolences letter for the family even before Tom Courtenay gets shot.

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