In 1942, British pilot Jimmy Briggs crashes his aeroplane in occupied France and immediately finds himself on the run from the Nazis. He meets a young girl, Nina, a part-Jewish agent with ...
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Travelling on foot across country, Nina splits away and is helped by a local farmer. He is suspicious of Jimmy when he calls, however, and deliberately misleads him, setting Jimmy and Vincent in the ...
Waiting for a rendezvous with a local contact, Hector Melun, who is to help them into the unoccupied zone of France in his van, Nina accidentally drops her identity papers. These are spotted by two ...
In 1942, British pilot Jimmy Briggs crashes his aeroplane in occupied France and immediately finds himself on the run from the Nazis. He meets a young girl, Nina, a part-Jewish agent with important information, and vows to get her back to Britain. He is helped by another agent, code-named Vincent, and pursued across France by S.S. Officer Lutzig, and the ambivalent Abwehr Sgt. Gratz.Written by
An extraordinary series, in turn intriguing, gripping, shocking and sometimes downright mad.
It begins as a piece of superior thick ear, with an odd trio - repressed Victor, extrovert Jimmy, and traumatised Jew Nina - trapped in occupied France, trying to get back to Britain with the information in Nina's head. The series involved a series of writers, whose different strengths led to a great deal of variety among the episodes - a technique used by excellent dramas of the time including The Gold Robbers and The Guardians. One wonders whether the writers competed amongst themselves to outdo each other - most of the episodes included scenes with dialogue of great tension which could make the hairs on one's neck stand on end. Various experiments were tried - one episode in virtual silence, others being practically two-handed plays. There was a lot of violence, and a high death rate, but typically the gunfire only punctuated the complex interactions of the various people trapped in the wartime situation.
We had the leading trio - Peter Barkworth, of dual nationality, who tries to overcome his sensitivity and compassion with cold professionalism, Cyd Hayman, who begins as a beautiful victim and sex object but finds untrained and unmanageable powers of self- protection, resistance and revenge, and Alfred Lynch as the Brylcreem Boy who finds that his cavalier attitude to danger and discipline are not enough to get him through the nightmare - but also the duplicity of the Resistance, and the collaborators, and the fatal rivalry between the brutish SS, the supine French police and the Abwehr, schooled in more military virtues.
As the series becomes more profound and serious, three more characters are dropped into the mix - Lutzig, too subtle for his SS masters but still a thug, Adelaide, of ambiguous loyalties, and the extraordinary Gratz. There is no scene too small for Robert Hardy to steal, in an incredible performance. The three original protagonists are split up, and so in the second half you could never predict which of the six would appear in any given episode. In the extremity of their situation they become so obsessed with each other that passions emerge, love and abuse co-exist, and - as the codeword introduced later in the show has it, 'war is love'.
The show is not perfect. Some of the psychology stretches credibility, and one wonders what languages they all speak. But still, it's a stunning drama which builds up to a giant and profound climax.
The theme, built around the opening motif of Beethoven's Fifth, became instantly associated with the series at the time of broadcast. This was a particularly brilliant idea, as the series was broadcast only 26 years after the end of the war, and many viewers would have memories of the motif being used in allied broadcasts. Why that motif? Because the rhythm, ...-, signifies the letter V (for victory) in Morse Code.
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