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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

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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 Niek Versteeg ... Billy Nicholson
Derek Jacobi ... Mr Simpson
Jackie Phillips Jackie Phillips ... Lily Parkinson
Madelaine Newton Madelaine Newton ... Jenny Barlow
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







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 »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



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

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

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 »

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User Reviews

Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler
17 February 2018 | by Prismark10See all my reviews

Alan Plater's last work, Joe Maddison's War was set in the north east and consisted of plenty of songs and tunes, even some jazz something he was fond of.

This drama starts off with a marriage and ends with another. Kevin Whately is Joe, a veteran of the Great War with his best friend Harry (Robson Green.) Both the work in the Tyneside shipyard and with the outbreak of the second world war they wind up in the Home Guard, but not before his wife suddenly leaves him for reasons we are not initially told about. We do gather that his wife is a devout Catholic while Joe lost his faith in the Somme.

At least being in the Home Guard gives him something to do. Along the way he hooks up with a widow who gives him love and tenderness as his children make their own way in life, his son is in the RAF where he has done over 50 missions.

As the war years go past, his wife returns wanting to get back together with Joe. She got pregnant by another man. Joe later reflects that he ended up doing more things during the war than any other part of his life.

The story is well acted but rather a slight story. Plater avoids going down too deep on a dark path, keeping things rather gentle and lighthearted, also indicating why it was Clement Atlee's vision of the country that people went for after the war. It is a shame that the production values looked a bit cheap.

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