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The Great War: The People's Story features a definitive account of the extraordinary years that changed Britain for ever during 1914 to 1918. It features strong, engaging and identifiable characters based on secret diaries. Different popular actors and actresses attempt to bring to life the original diaries, letters and memoirs of those caught up in the conflict.
|S01E01||Episode 1||10/08/2014||1914:-Newly married lieutenant Alan Lloyd writes to his wife Dorothy from the trenches whilst Oxford undergraduate James Butlin, having obtained a commission also as a lieutenant, sends letters to fellow student Basil Burnett-Hall. Cockney Reg Evans, an early volunteer, writes to his religious mother, including an account of how he heroically undertook a dangerous mission though two years later a shell will explode in his face. All three men initially write in positive tones which turn to disillusion as the war progresses. Emancipated would-be journalist Dorothy Lawrence dresses as a man and cycles to the Front, from where she sends back reports until she is arrested as a spy and sent to a psychiatric unit. She will survive another fifty years and die in 1964.|
|S01E02||Episode 2||17/08/2014||With half his jaw blown away Reg undergoes reconstructive surgery from pioneering doctor Harold Gillies, writing to his mother that he is now uglier than ever. Reg will go through the war, winning a distinguished conduct medal, marrying and surviving until 1943. Alan Lloyd is less fortunate for whilst he gets home leave to see his new born son in 1915 the next year he will be killed at the battle of the Somme, being awarded a posthumous Military Cross. On the home front Hallie Miles, a vegetarian restaurateur ,ironically derives a positive from the war as meat rationing drives people towards her vegetarian recipes. Hallie notes the daily exoduses from London as troop trains carry youngsters to the slaughter, as does actress Kate Parry Frye, a committed suffragette who has eschewed militarism for the war effort, making uniforms. Kate will marry Somme survivor John Collins and will carry on the diary she began three years before war broke out until 1958, passing way a year later.|
|S01E03||Episode 3||24/08/2014||1917: Hallie Miles publishes her book Health Without Meat and is one of many expressing their fears about Zeppelin raids. Also in London Helen Bentwich, a barrister's wife whose family has long denied her any vocation, comes to work at the Woolwich arsenal. She is shocked by the conditions of the working class and is instrumental in union activity. In the Essex country side Scots parson Andrew Clark, in his memoirs Echoes of the Great War shares Hallie's horror of the Zeppelin bombing raids and concern that so many young men are being sent to the trenches to be slaughtered. Also in Essex nineteen year old housemaid Emily Chitticks meets and falls in love with Cornish teenager Will Martin whose regiment has been billeted nearby. He is sent to the war and the pair exchange letters but he is killed by a sniper. Emily will never marry despite surviving until 1973.|
|S01E04||Episode 4||31/08/2014||1918 sees meat rationing being introduced so that Hallie and her husband Eustace, employed by the Ministry of Food, have considerable success with their vegetarian fare. Helen Bentrich, sacked from the arsenal for her socialist viewpoint, throws herself into the organization of the Women's Land Army. She will later become a social worker in the Middle East and the Labour leader of London County Council, surviving to age eighty. Alfred Duff Cooper's post at the Foreign Office has protected him from conscription but in 1918 he joins the Grenadier Guards as a lieutenant and is awarded the DSO for bravery. He laments the deaths of his university contemporaries to his glamorous sweetheart Diana Manners, to whom he will be married until his death in 1954. Arthur Roberts, a black shipyard worker from Glasgow, has witnessed horrific carnage which he records in his diaries. Although falsely accused of damaging a pair of boots and almost facing court martial he is not subject to racism and can even joke about looking like a white man after being caked in mortar dust. He will die in Liverpool in 1985, his diaries being posthumously discovered. Eighteen year old Ted Poole is not so lucky. With all his elder brothers killed he writes cheerful letters to his father but will die in action a month before the war's end. Come the Armistice Winston Churchill notes the jubilation of the masses taking to the streets to celebrate the end of a costly and wasteful conflict.|