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TV review: The Wipers Times, BBC 2


What is it? A 90-minute drama, scripted by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, based on real events during the First World War. After a Captain found a printing press among the rubble of Ypres in 1916, he started a satirical magazine called The Wipers Times (“Wipers” being Tommy-speak for “Ypres”). The phrase “Am I as offensive as I might be?” became the paper’s motif. Starring Michael Palin, Ben Chaplin and Julian Rhind-Tutt.

The Independent says: “If [it] sounds a little like something dreamed up by Edmund Blackadder, then The Wipers Times with its one-liners and music hall sketches was not far off the mark, except that, far from being a fantasy from Private Eye editor Hislop, this was a true story … Behind the good-humoured jabs and the presenting of the jolliest of good shows was a real and righteous strain of anger: at the waste of a generation, at the cavalier way these men were treated after they returned to civilian life.”

They say: The Daily Mail: “Ian Hislop and Nick Newman have uncovered a forgotten legend of the Front, one that reveals the war in a fresh light. Despite the hardship and the dangers, Fred and Jack — played by Ben Chaplin and Julian Rhind-Tutt, both excellent — were actually having fun. It was a shame to cram so much great material into a one-off. And it’s a worse shame that, if Ian Hislop can write like this, he so often prefers to waste his talent on repetitive panel games.” The Guardian: “It’s an extraordinary true story (hell, it’s hard enough to get a paper out even without the fizz bangs flying around). Funny, sad, and peculiarly British. And told with an affectionate twinkle. Lovely.”

You say: @NashSGC: “Thoroughly enjoyed the #WipersTimes. Credit to those who uncovered this gem & even more so to the men who wrote & printed it to begin with”; @Bushbell: “Witty, thought provoking, sad. My Grandad was at Ypres, I wonder if he read #wiperstimes”

The details: watch again, till Weds; bbc.co.uk/iplayer