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Unexploded series

January 31st, 2013 (04:23 am)

As I can't sleep, I will share how much I've been enjoying 1979's Danger UXB, recommended to me by [personal profile] naraht and a matter of curiosity to me ever since it was mentioned in the context of the career of either Deborah Watling or Douglas Camfield or both in one of Jeremy Bentham's Matrix Data Bank columns in an early 1980s Doctor Who Monthly. Thirty years is a long time to wait before getting round to something, and this has been expedited by the availability of the entire series, currently, on YouTube. The run-down London of the late 1970s lent itself to being dressed as the blitzed city of nearly forty years earlier, and while the mixture of characters could have been twee - the sappers in the bomb squad at the centre of the series being composed of almost every regional stereotype - it's executed in such a way that it doesn't show. Anthony Andrews is a convincing Brian Ash, transferred from being a private in one regiment to a commission in the engineers and learning how to defuse unexploded ordnance, command men and fend off the advances of his landlady's daughter (a compelling performance by Miss Watling as an unsubtle would-be seductress) all at once. I'm only five episodes in, so Judy Geeson is only beginning to make her presence felt as Susan, daughter of unfairly-labelled "mad professor" Dr Gillespie (Iain Cuthbertson, initially and misleadingly echoing Lionel Jeffries in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and transgressive love interest for Brian. There are intriguing observations on gender roles in wartime - men governed by hierarchies, women addressing all the "brave boys" by their first names, irrespective of rank - and possibly on politics as well, though my take on this might be governed by authorial fallacy, co-creator, producer and head writer John Hawkesworth being conservative by reputation, but production company Euston Films being generally less respectful towards traditional social order. With a large cast, high production values - with at least one explosion required a week - it's not surprising that it was reputedly too expensive for ITV to renew.

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/576603.html.

Comments

Posted by: ooxc (ooxc)
Posted at: January 31st, 2013 10:41 am (UTC)

The series was, I think based on a novel, read in my youth, but title and author have disappeared into one of the distant recesses of memory.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: January 31st, 2013 10:52 am (UTC)

Based on memoirs rather than a novel, according to the credits.

Posted by: ooxc (ooxc)
Posted at: January 31st, 2013 10:54 am (UTC)

Nigel Balchin was the author - I didn't know that it was memoirs

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: January 31st, 2013 11:25 am (UTC)

A different book - the source wasn't by Balchin, though I forget the name of the army officer concerned.

Posted by: ooxc (ooxc)
Posted at: January 31st, 2013 12:21 pm (UTC)

Well, perhaps that needs checking - it was certainly understood at the tem that the principal characters originated in the Balchin novwl

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: January 31st, 2013 12:27 pm (UTC)

The book was by Major A.P. Hartley.

Posted by: ooxc (ooxc)
Posted at: January 31st, 2013 12:41 pm (UTC)

I see that the Balchin novel was filmed in 1949 -

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: January 31st, 2013 12:42 pm (UTC)

Yes, by Powell and Pressburger - and he wrote at least one more novel in the same setting.