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.