The Village writer Peter Moffat: It's vital not to imbue period dramas with a Ready Brek glow


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The Independent Culture

One of the country's most prominent screenwriters has complained that British period dramas too often disregard the lives of ordinary people.

Peter Moffat, whose credits include Criminal Justice and Silk, penned forthcoming BBC1 drama The Village, which he was inspired to write after his father opened up about his childhood.

The Bafta-winning writer, who discovered that his grandfather and great-grandfather were shepherds, told the Radio Times: "Life at the start of the 20th century was hard... it's vital not to imbue the past with a kind of Ready Brek glow.

"In British television there's a tendency to look at this period from the point of view of the officer classes.

"The summer of 1914 just before war started is always described as the end of an Edwardian golden age - innocent and charmed and about to be destroyed by the mud and blood and death on the Western Front. It wasn't a golden age for men like my great-grandfather."

The Village stars Maxine Peake and John Simm and charts the life and turbulent times of one English village across the whole of the 20th century.

Moffat said: "In writing The Village I wanted to get past these received wisdoms about the past and describe the bigger picture.

"While (the poet) Rupert Brooke was swimming naked in Grantchester men died in the fields - from overwork.

"Television drama has spent too much time being in love with the poet and not enough time exploring the wonderful, complex and dramatic stories attached to the rest of the population."