ITV Play of the Week: Season 10, Episode 1

The Other Man (7 Sep. 1964)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Drama
8.5
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 12 users  
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In 1940, Winston Churchill is killed, Britain signs a separate peace with Nazi Germany, and the Second World War is over. George Grant, a young Army officer, witnesses the gradual changes ... See full summary »

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Title: The Other Man (07 Sep 1964)

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Cast

Episode credited cast:
...
George Grant
...
Kate Grant
...
Henry Potter
Peter Dyneley ...
Maj. Ritter
...
CSM Blackman
William Kendall ...
Maj. Norriss
Godfrey Quigley ...
Paddy Ryan
Vladek Sheybal ...
Klaus
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
John Allison ...
Waiter
Philip Anthony ...
Adjutant / President
John Barcroft ...
Lee
Valerie Bell ...
Daphne
Michael Blackham ...
Pvt. Croft
John Blum ...
Clark
Bernard Brown ...
Lt. Vale
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Storyline

In 1940, Winston Churchill is killed, Britain signs a separate peace with Nazi Germany, and the Second World War is over. George Grant, a young Army officer, witnesses the gradual changes to his country's culture that result as the Nazis begin to influence Britain's domestic and foreign policies, and seems to thrive under the new regime... Written by Igenlode Wordsmith

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Comedy | Drama

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7 September 1964 (UK)  »

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Featured in The Unforgettable John Thaw (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A British officer prospers under a Nazi alliance
15 December 2007 | by (England) – See all my reviews

This is the devastating story of a man who loses his soul -- bit by bit, step by reasonable step.

The setting is the well-worn one of "What if Nazi Germany had won the war"; here, it's told from the point of view of a regiment that missed taking part in the French Expeditionary Force, and were thus intact and billeted back on the British coast in 1940, when the peace treaty was signed... As German allies, the British gain access to Nazi weaponry and medicine, and aside from a few contretemps -- like the mess guest who accuses a company commander of being a Jew ("an animal, a foul Thing!") and thus unworthy to propose the loyal toast to Hitler -- things seem to be generally going quite well, with the Army officers laughing up their sleeves at the humourless Nazis and the German nation presenting a giant Christmas tree for use in Trafalgar Square. Then Hitler declares war on Russia, and the regiment is posted to British India to give aid to its new allies by striking north.

And throughout everything, George Grant manages to survive, and to prosper without much cost to his conscience. As senior officers are purged or executed, he moves steadily up the ranks. When he sees a Jewish friend being worked to death in a chain gang, he turns the other way. When a colleague turns out to be a Communist, he shoots him himself. When a common soldier questions why they are attacking the Russians -- "after all, they've never done anything to us" -- he delivers the Nazi line with conviction: the Russians are to be conquered because they are a barbarian race. When an interrogator asks him why his men give the British salute and not the Nazi salute, he responds that it is only because he has not had any orders to make the change. And when he is offered the prospect of commanding a German task force, he snaps at the bait offered to get him to incriminate an old friend.

The reality of this last is almost too much, and he snaps; but circumstances conspire to rob him of the honourable death he tries to seek, and deliver us to a final act set in a top German hospital, where miracles can be achieved -- at a price.

The alternate history is cleverly worked out, with off-hand references to satellite launching from Peenemünde and the toast to the new Queen coupled with one to the Reichschancellor, and the changes at first are subtle. The British Army does not cease to be the British Army because peace has been signed with Hitler... and yet by the final episode we have reached a 1953 where the Gestapo have bugged the telephones within the regimental barracks, and where the Army runs official slave-staffed brothels where the commanding officer gets to 'requisition' his first pick.

George Grant is not a leering villain. He is a career-minded officer of a very recognisable type, with normal prejudices and weaknesses, and as vulnerable as anyone else to flattery and skilled manipulation. He has his (belated) epiphany, tries to do the right thing in accordance with Army tradition, and doesn't have the strength of personality to make a stand once the overwhelming emotion of the moment is over; when he awakes a year later as literally another person, his chance is past. He has become a monster, but by slow and almost imperceptible stages.

The strengths of this play lie in its use of the restricted barracks world to reflect in microcosm external changes, in its economy of action, and its unswerving and relentless clarity of vision. The world it shows is not a million miles removed from our own. Most of us could be in Grant's place, given an appropriate stimulus. The most terrible of betrayals -- the most shocking revelations -- are delivered the most quietly.


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