CHRISTOPHER STEVENS Discusses the Weekend’s TV: Who Wins Wins as the SAS Go Stark Naked to Battle
Simon Schama’s history today
Never in the realm of human period drama has one man been played by so many.
Whether as a political outcast or wartime Prime Minister, Winston Churchill is a recurring character on writer Steven Knight’s shows – and the old bulldog is played by a different actor each time.
He appears in three series of Peaky Blinders: played first by Andy Nyman, then by Richard McCabe, and finally by Neil Maskell. In the latest episode of SAS rogue (BBC1)it was Jason Watkins’ turn, who seemed to channel Boris Johnson’s huff-puff-and-stutter version of the big man.
After quoting much Shakespeare and mixing Julius Caesar with Henry V, the Prime Minister took David Stirling (Connor Swindells) aside for a private conversation.
“Forget war etiquette,” he instructed the SAS Phantom Major. “Do whatever it takes.”
CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: In the final episode of SAS Rogue Heroes (BBC1) it was Jason Watkins’ turn to play Sir Winston Churchill
Stirling replied by taking Winnie’s cigar and lighting his own cigarette with it. A television homage to classic war movies, this series features plenty of such flamboyant moments, images that will be remembered long after the scenes of factual statements have faded.
Another was the briefing in which Stirling explained to his men how they would hit six German airbases and thus relieve the siege of Malta. The logistics of the raids were incidental: most importantly, Stirling insisted that the squadron be stark naked throughout.
Equally effective is the use of a hard rock soundtrack. If it initially seemed eccentric to blast AC/DC’s Highway To Hell about desert battles, the technique made perfect sense by the time Stirling’s killers were racing down a German airstrip in jeeps, blowing up Messerschmitts and machine-gunning the air crews, all set to go. the cacophony of Overkill by heavy metal dealers Motorhead.
Hands up if you want Railway Union boss Mick Lynch picked out by the SAS in time for Christmas
Grief-stricken Jewish commando Marc Halevy (Arthur Orcier) fulfilled his wish to become a human hand grenade. And unhinged Captain Paddy Mayne (Jack O’Connell), whose insubordination threatened every mission, became the regiment’s commander after Stirling blundered into an Afrika Korps patrol.
That set the stage for a rumored second series, with ‘Mad Mayne’ as the star – unless Knight intends to fast-forward to the 1970s, when a middle-aged Colonel Stirling toyed with recruiting a private army to break strikes and beat the trade. labor unions. Raise your hands if you want Railway Union boss Mick Lynch picked out by the SAS in time for Christmas.
Simon Schama relived the kind of civil rights and feminist marches that would no doubt send steam from the elderly colonel’s ears, in the second part of History Today (BBC2).
Simon Schama relived the kind of civil rights and feminist marches that would no doubt get steam out of the older Colonel’s ears, in the second part of History Of Now (BBC2)
Like Forrest Gump, Schama seems to have had a gift for being present at crucial moments in our time. Not only did he tour the United States in 1964, when the anti-segregation struggle was at its peak, but the following year he was also a vote counter in a debate at Cambridge University with the great novelist and political activist James Baldwin.
And in an excerpt about the infamous 1971 debate in New York between macho writer Norman Mailer and a legion of liberated women, Schama made us realize that he knew Germaine Greer as a student. She was apparently “charismatic” – a dignified way of saying he liked her.
Although the focus was too heavy on America’s struggles, the episode was worth watching for the closing interview with Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale.
At C4, the adaptation of her book has long since run out of energy. But that’s not Margaret’s fault.