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Joe Maddison's War (2010)

Tyneside ship-builder Joe Maddison lost his faith in the trenches at the Somme in 1916. Now that World War II has begun, he is too old to enlist alongside his son and son-in-law, and is ... See full summary »


Patrick Collerton


Alan Plater




Cast overview, first billed only:
Sammy T. Dobson Sammy T. Dobson ... Sheila Maddison (as Sammy Dobson)
James Atherton ... Tommy Cowell
Angela Lonsdale Angela Lonsdale ... Polly Maddison
James Baxter ... Alan Maddison
Kevin Whately ... Joe Maddison
John Woodvine ... Father Connolly
Robson Green ... Harry Crawford
Trevor Fox Trevor Fox ... Eddie Turnbull
Niek Versteeg ... Billy Nicholson
Derek Jacobi ... Mr Simpson
Jackie Phillips Jackie Phillips ... Lily Parkinson
Madelaine Newton Madelaine Newton ... Jenny Barlow
Charlie Richmond Charlie Richmond ... Sergeant Bull
Judi Earl Judi Earl ... Woman 1
Sharon Percy ... Woman 2


Tyneside ship-builder Joe Maddison lost his faith in the trenches at the Somme in 1916. Now that World War II has begun, he is too old to enlist alongside his son and son-in-law, and is also in a reserved occupation so, after his wife Polly has left him for a sailor, he joins the Home Guard with his friends Marxist Eddie and cynical, wise-cracking Harry. Harry's anti-authoritarian attitude causes problems with Mr. Simpson, the company commander, and Joe leads the men out on strike after Harry is expelled. However, after he has dealt with an unexploded bomb, he is acclaimed a hero, and, along with his friends, reinstated, being promoted to Corporal. He also meets widow Selina who brings him out of his shell, but Polly returns, with the sailor's child, seeking a reconciliation, a request which splits the family. Come 1945 and the war is ending, but Joe still has his personal conflict to resolve. Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War


Did You Know?


30 minutes in, Joe Maddison has just been sold a 1 shilling ticket to the Russian Allies Fund Benefit Dance; when the ticket seller offers a ticket to Major Drummond who looks at the ticket and says "afraid I'll be a long way from Tyneside by then", but we have seen the ticket has no date on it. See more »


[Mr Simpson is filling in the official form for Joe to join the Home Guard]
Mr. Simpson: [reading from the form] Why do you want to join the Home Guard?
Joe Maddison: This war's done its best to ruin my life. I want to kill somebody. Nazis will do, to be going on with.
See more »

User Reviews

I really wanted to like this.....
1 October 2011 | by taitaSee all my reviews

I love the work of Alan Plater. His Beiderbecke series was absolute magic. But those stories weren't told in 110 minutes but slowly developed over many episodes which helped give it greater depth and great characters. I have to agree with the previous reviewer that this production of Joe Maddisons war fell well short of its full potential. It could have been a cracker of a story showing the frustration of a man who could not actively participate on the front line, being able to do his bit in the Home Guard. It could also have given us a more balanced view of the contribution of the Home Guard than the admittedly very funny but inaccurate "Dads Army" series. Unfortunately all we got was a meandering saga spread thinly from 1940 to 1945 with unnecessary interjections of archive footage that was supposed to set the time but arrived in the most curious places seeming to split a subplot in half. The actors did well with the material they had, Derek Jacobi as always superb, Robson Green adding the comic element, but they were let down by the story and continuity. It is a great pity that Alan Platers Swan Song is such a disappointment.

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Release Date:

19 September 2010 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

A Guerra de Maddison See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mammoth Screen See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (HD)| Black and White (archive footage)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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