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The Wipers Times (2013)

Not Rated | | War | TV Movie 11 September 2013
Just after the First World War Fred Roberts goes for a job as a newspaper journalist and tells the sub-editor how, in the trenches in 1916, he discovered a printing press in working order. ... See full summary »


Andy De Emmony

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Complete credited cast:
Ben Chaplin ... Roberts
Patrick FitzSymons ... Deputy Features Editor (as Patrick Fitzsymons)
Julian Rhind-Tutt ... Pearson
Steve Oram ... Sergeant Harris
Josh O'Connor ... Dodd
Jarrod Cooke Jarrod Cooke ... Henderson
Colin Ash ... Smith
Hugh Skinner ... Barnes
Ben Daniels ... Lieutenant Colonel Howfield
Michael Palin ... General Mitford
Richard Doubleday ... ADC Bobby
Paul Kennedy ... Winston Churchill
Emma Little Lawless Emma Little Lawless ... Field Nurse (as Emma Little)
Emilia Fox ... Kate Roberts
Faolan Morgan Faolan Morgan ... Chaplain


Just after the First World War Fred Roberts goes for a job as a newspaper journalist and tells the sub-editor how, in the trenches in 1916, he discovered a printing press in working order. Helped by ex-printer Sergeant Harris and with his friend Jack Pearson as his assistant, he sets up the Wipers Times - the name coming from the soldiers' pronunciation of the town Ypres. Despite disapproval from officious Colonel Howfield but with backing from sympathetic General Mitford they produce twenty-three issues of a satirical magazine - its articles represented on screen in black and white - which boosts morale and even gets mentioned in the Tatler. The press is destroyed by a German shell but another is found and the paper's title changed to fit in with wherever the regiment is deployed. Pearson and Roberts are both awarded gallantry medals but when Roberts is only offered the job of crossword compiler by the sub-editor he moves to Canada as a prospector while Pearson marries and opens a ... Written by don @ minifie-1

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Release Date:

11 September 2013 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Hadisajtó See more »

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Did You Know?


"Wipers" was the nickname that British soldiers during World War I used for the Belgian Flemish city of Ieper, which was known by it's French name of "Ypres" and they found the correct name hard to say. See more »


Lieutenant Colonel Howfield: Is there anything more dangerous to a soldier than idle hands?
Roberts: No sir! apart from gas and flamethrowers.
See more »


If You Were the Only Girl in the World
Written by Clifford Grey and Nat Ayer (as Nat D Ayer)
Used by kind permission of Carlin Music Corp on behalf of
Redwood Music Ltd and EMI Music Publishing Ltd
See more »

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User Reviews

If you like words and sarcasm
26 July 2016 | by donb-519-335075See all my reviews

A delightfully different look at The Great War. The mud, terror, futility of the Great War is well known - even among today's high school students, I trust. But it was not without its moments - the 1914 Christmas truce; collaborations on the front line (we'll send a few bombs over at the same time each day just to keep our Officers happy - make sure you take cover); and the Wipers Times.

This is the story of two enterprising British officers (Cpt. Fred Roberts and Lt. J.H. Pearson) who sought to relieve the misery of the front line with humor and sarcasm - especially pointed at the British General Staff officers - by publishing a periodical. Those who know much about the Great War know it was a exercise in futility and incompetence - especially demonstrated by those who were leading the conflict - on both sides. If you are interested in the futility of the war read "Back to the Front" by Stephen O'Shea - a scathing indictment of the British General Staff in WWI.

While The Wipers Times reflects this incompetence, it focuses on the ability of two men to make fun of the situation on the Western Front by sarcastically pointing out the inconsistencies, hypocrisies, elitism and disregard for the "Tommys" (the troops who were actually fighting the war), by those leading the war.

Throughout the drama, the total lack of "getting it" was demonstrated by Lt. Col Howfield as he expressed outrage at the jokes and barbs being made about the war and especially at the expense of the General Staff. He regularly approached his superior, General Mitford (played by Michael Palin - who surely recognizes a joke when he sees it) with outrage about the content of the front line periodical. To his credit Mitford saw the humor and benefit of the times and supported it.

One of the highlights of the film is when Howland launches a surprise inspection of Captain Fred Roberts' post - suspecting that Roberts was responsible for the Times. The dialogue between Howland and Roberts was hysterical - demonstrating that in more ways than one - the General Staff did not "get it."

The acting is good, the staging superb. Although not on the same plane as "Great War Diaries" or "Beneath Hill 60" - both superb dramas about the War, this film makes a fitting contribution to understanding the Great War. Soldiers on the front line live the absurdities of war and embrace the gallows humor that war brings. We civilians get a small glimpse of it in this drama.

If you like the Great War or clever use of words, you will enjoy this film.

You can read edition 1 of The Wipers Times at



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