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A Family At War - Series 1 [DVD]

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A Family at War never smacks of the plucky ‘keep calm and carry on’ rhetoric typical of more nostalgic visions of wartime, and repudiates any patriotic pleasures in favour of a much more sombre and downbeat vision. We’re very rarely offered any insights into the lives of Lerwick’s middle and upper-class families, and people may be mistaken in thinking that Shetland lacked any sort of cultural scene. According to one contemporaneous report, the programme’s ‘opening episode was seen in 6,850,000 homes, probably representing some 20 million viewers’, taking it ‘straight into the top ten with its first programme’, only just below the well-established Coronation Street in the ratings (Sun, 28 April 1970). This method of telling a story on location with a film unit shooting every day for twelve or more days is now the accepted pattern – it offers high quality pictures, flexibility and a wide-ranging style.

Back in 1970 to 1972 I didn’t have a television, and if I ever saw an episode of A Family At War it has long gone from my memory. The book that I’m looking at here, A Family at War, was published by the Shetland Times earlier this year and offers a tantalising glimpse at Lerwick during the First World War. His screenwriting credits for serials are extensive … Poldark, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre, Sherlock Holmes, Oliver Twist, Vanity Fair. Growing up in the 60s, like most of my generation I had been reared on Britain’s obsession with World War II.It’s interesting that John Finch, the creator of A Family at War, was also a pioneer of all-film drama for television at around the same time.

Interesting to note too that this was a series which enjoyed spectacular popularity overseas, especially in Scandinavia where it became one of the top-rated programmes of all time – an interesting reversal of the current British media enthusiasm for all things Nordic. The 103 third parties who use cookies on this service do so for their purposes of displaying and measuring personalized ads, generating audience insights, and developing and improving products. Made in a nearly continuous two-year production period, each episode begins on a specific date from August 1938 to December 1945, with the drama unfolding over the course of the entire war. It is important to remember that this was a completely original piece of writing, not based on an existing book which would have provided the outline of what was to come. It was one of those series that kept you close to the screen and always in place as each hour episode was shown.Stan Barstow wrote one episode, Lines of Battle (Season 1, Episode 3) about Margaret’s wedding in June 1939. By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy. Although it was broadcast in colour (for the most part) and colour sets had been available since the late 1960s, at this time they were still very much a luxury item and didn’t really penetrate the mass market until much later.

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