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For you, Mr Foyle, the war is far from over...

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 30, 2013

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An uncustomary bout of flu this week found me in bed for two days, the low point of which (from a TV point of view, I'll skip over the gory bits) was to discover that I was watching a re-run of 1970s comedy Only When I Laugh.

I think it was being screened on ITV 158, or The Old Programmes channel or some such, but a high temperature made me think I'd gone back in time.

What you need, at a time like this, is comfort telly. Something easy and welcoming. Like the return of Foyle's War (Sunday, ITV1). I wasn't the only one distressed by Foyle being summarily executed by ITV in 2007.

Public outcry and a change of heart by the TV company have finally brought it back to our screens but with writer Anthony Horowitz facing a dilemma.

Having quickly tied up some loose ends when he realised the show was for the axe, for Foyle the Second World War was over.

Perhaps we'd have Foyle's Peace?

Cleverly, he's given the sardonic and clever Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (played superbly by Michael Kitchen) a new challenge.

Returning from America, he is pressed into service by MI5, who suspect that a British atomic research programme has been infiltrated. The conflict this time is the Cold War.

It neatly brings him back into contact with his former driver, Sam (Honeysuckle Weeks), now married to a thoroughly decent chap, Adam (Daniel Weyman), who wants to become a Labour MP and make a real difference.

There's great attention to period detail, as we'd expect, but also period mood – the uncertainty, the politics of peace and the nervousness of the prospect of another war.

There was a glimpse of the pressures with the arrival, after time in a Japanese PoW camp, of Frank Shaw (once a cheery desk sergeant of Foyle's). Now he's a broken, paranoid and depressed ex-soldier. Joe Duttine perfectly captured his anger and despair.

A lighter take on the subject of war came with the excellent Wodehouse in Exile (BBC Four, Monday), the plight of PG "Plummy" Wodehouse who found himself interned during the war and then accused of treason when he made what he saw as light-hearted radio broadcasts from Berlin after his release.

Tim Pigott-Smith was brilliant as the real innocent abroad, a quirky Englishman who liked to cheer up the chaps with his internment camp diaries. Jolly, what?

He was perfectly matched by Zoe Wanamaker as his exasperated wife, Ethel, who demands to know what German soldiers want when they turn up on their French doorstep.

"World domination I believe, darling," Plummy says drily.

Hugely entertaining and informative.

Even modern warfare got a look in with Sunday night's Our Girl (BCC One). The success of this one-off drama was in the hands of EastEnders star Lacey Turner who played Molly Dawes, a teenage nail technician who lived in a cramped home with her well-meaning but perpetually pregnant mum and her feckless, occasionally violent dad.

She was going out with Artan, someone who thought it was acceptable to have "relations" with Molly's best friend too.

She had low esteem, faced with repeating her mother's drudgery-filled story. Her answer? Join the Army.

What could have been a predictable story of a rough diamond finding her true calling became quite a moving and effective drama.

Cliches went out the window – there was no sudden change of character, no heartwarming romance with the tough Corporal (the excellent Matthew McNulty). Instead, this was a subtle, realistic and engaging story with a nuanced performance from Lacey Turner.

It was a devastating moment when I realised that – as for a lot of our boys and girls on the front line – there wasn't a happy ending in view.

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