I was delighted when I heard that ITV’s Foyle’s War was coming back for a new short series. The three new episodes have been broadcast on Sunday nights over the last three weeks and all have made entertaining viewing.
I had loved the previous six series set in WW2 and all carefully crafted, with accurate locations, believable characters and beautiful acting. They were notable TV in the last decade.
One bonus of the first series had been the many communist and anti-fascist themes woven into the, sometimes, complicated plots.
Among the best examples Writer Anthony Horowitz introduced us to right wing British Aristocrats organising their support for Hitler and preparing for his successful occupation of Britain. Foyle (Michael Kitchen) thwarts their plans.
Foyle’s son joins the Communist Party at University. “The only ones who are really fighting Fascism” he explains. Foyle nods sagely.
In another notable episode we learn all about The People’s Convention – a people’s government proposed by communists and others in 1940–1941.
We also had a convincing argument on how the Government had banned the Daily Worker, forerunner of today’s Morning Star.
Sometimes it seemed Foyle’s War could have been an Open University series on Left wing politics in the 1940’s.
So when ITV announced Foyle was coming back in a three programme post-war series where he swops his Hastings police job for a role in MI5 in London I, for one, gave a small cheer.
Others were worried, one wrote to the Morning Star fearing anti-communist propaganda and calling for a boycott.
So what did the actual programmes offer? Well the first did indeed talk of a huge Soviet spy-ring in the UK but it turned out to have been invented by MI5 for its own Machiavellian ends.
Episode two did have a posh Communist Spy at university, who rose through the British Intelligence hierarchy and then fled to the East just before being exposed. How likely is that?
Final episode had no communists at all; just a particularly nasty Nazi war- criminal who MI5 were leaning over backward to protect. Foyle stops all that nonsense.
Most of the plots however were concerned with the British ruling class protecting its position. We had colonel blimps in monacles believing they were above the law and using savage torture techniques, learnt in the outposts of Empire, now they were home.
We meet an anti-communist atom bomb scientist who trusted scientists East and West rather than politicians from either side.
MI5 recruits are turned down simply because they “went to the wrong school”.
Anti-semetism and snobbery and good old true-blue Tory values are alive and well in the establishment corridors of power.
All in all an incompetent secret service more interested in internal politics rather that actually working out who the real enemy was.
In the background Sam (Honeysuckle Weeks) has married a principled Labour Party member who becomes an MP and brings down his corrupt Minister boss with Sam and Foyle’s help.
In best Foyle tradition this storyline gives writer Horowitz a chance to celebrate the introduction of the brand new National Health Service.
The secret of Horowitz success in the past is that all the major story lines, and many of the smaller ones too, were based on actual historical incidents. That is clearly the case in the latest series too. It is fun to see how many you can spot.
Your starter for ten is Uranium samples in the Thermos Flask.
Only one thing jarred in the latest offering. The meticulous settings of a beautifully recreated war-time Hastings have been replaced by an all too recognisable Dublin, not quite disguised as post war London.
If you didn’t catch Foyle’s War the first time round watch out for what I’m sure will be frequent repeats. I don’t think you will regret it.