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NigelS

The Crimson Field - BBC drama series

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This will be interesting to compare with its 1979 BBC predecessor, Testament of Youth. How long do you reckon it'll be before we have Shirley Williams discussing it ?

Phil (PJA)

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This will be interesting to compare with its 1979 BBC predecessor, Testament of Youth. How long do you reckon it'll be before we have Shirley Williams discussing it ?

Phil (PJA)

I think they are filming a new version of Testament of Youth, Phil. Probably a little more blood and guts nowadays

David

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I think they are filming a new version of Testament of Youth, Phil. Probably a little more blood and guts nowadays

David

And a bit more smut, too, I shouldn't wonder !

Phil (PJA)

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Yes 'Testament of Youth- the Movie' has been in the offing for a couple of years but can't find anything recent on the WWW. Assume that it's still going ahead.

And a bit more smut, too, I shouldn't wonder !

Phil (PJA)

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Thanks Sue, that's good to know. Regards

I've recently been asked for some advice on uniforms, so it's definitely going ahead. Let's hope they do a bit better on that front than The Crimson Field.

Sue

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Some more detail.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/mediapacks/crimsonfield/

I had hoped to hear that Sue had been involved in this - never mind.

They approached, and got, the best historical advisers. I had a bit input to the programme by frequent contact and discussions with Professor Christine Hallett who eventually took on the job. However, at the end of the day the production team made decisions that went against some of the expert advice they were given. If there are things wrong, it's certainly not because they didn't know about them, but because they felt that their view was better for the final effect they were trying to achieve. I think that happens quite frequently these days with programmes of this type. How it will turn out dramatically remains to be seen.

Sue

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At least they sought the best advice!

If they chose to ignore it, that's their issue! Hopefully, it will work.

Roxy

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The author Kate Saunders has just given this series a real toasting on Radio 4's 'Front Row' review programme, basically writing it off as inaccurate, cliched rubbish and an insult to the memory of Great War nurses and doctors. The presenter John Wilson vainly tried to defend the show but she was having none of it. We shall soon have the chance to make up our own minds...

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The trailer I have seen (again and again) and all the pre-publicity certainly makes me intend to give it a wider berth indeed.

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I shall reserve judgement.

Roger

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I am slightly concerned shall we say but will try to switch my brain into some sort of neutral mode and give the programme a chance. Regards

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At the risk of promoting sales of the Radio Times there are some very moving letters from readers contained in the edition w/c 5th April, obviously never published before. Ralph.

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In the link Ken has posted (thank you Ken) Sarah Phelps makes the statement "You really think you 'know' the First World War, but there is so much you don't". I feel this is a contradictory statement that perhaps only a very modest Military Historian would be entitled to make and not a writer. I have also read the letters from readers to which Rjaydee refers and have to agree these are quite moving, but if they have not been published to date this would reflect the Centenary is bringing forward more memorabilia, so far uncovered, which is a wonderful thing.

Anne

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The Crimson Field: What did they get right, and what was wrong?

I have been eagerly awaiting this show even though to watch it, I'm having to have a friend in England DVR it and send it to me since there seems to be no air date in the US. I thought it would be helpful to have an open (yet respectful) conversation as to its historical accuracy as the episodes unfold.

On Sue Light's blog, she noted that when TV dramas like this do not accurately portray history, the general public, unfortunately, assumes the show's portrayal is fact. Unless someone points out the inaccuracies, even other researchers may unconsciously assume fiction is fact. This forum is an opportunity for a myriad of 'experts' to lend their knowledge to set the record straight. So, as the episodes unfold, please chime in on what you see as being accurate or inaccurate.

Ok. First the basics:

-The mini series is set to air in the UK on BBC1 the week of April 6 with 6 episodes, I believe.

-Original title was The Ark. If you Google on it, you can find misc cast interviews, etc.

-Two trailers can be found: here and here.

-Interviews here but I think they only work for residents of UK

Please respectfully join in the conversation--this can be a great learning experience for all of us.

~Ginger Monette

Charlotte, NC

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I'll go first--with only the trailer and promo info as content to judge by.

Here are a few things I spotted that made me say hmmmm....

Misnomber of "Field Hospital": The blurb under this trailer states: "In a tented field hospital on the coast of France.." The whole term 'field hospital' has stumped me in my research. What is a field hospital? Was it a 'real' entity or just a phrase generally used to mean a medical facility close to the fighting? I found the answer in the book Surgery at a Casualty Clearing Station (from 1918-online here) "THE Casualty Clearing Station is somewhat of an innovation in the organisation of the British Army Medical Service; it was first employed in active warfare in the early days of the present war. During the South African Campaign of 1899-1901 a somewhat corresponding unit existed in the shape of the Field Hospital, and when, after the campaign, the Army Medical Service underwent some degree of re-organisation, the Field Hospital was replaced by a unit which was termed a Clearing Hospital, and at an early stage in the present war the designation of Casualty Clearing Station was substituted for that of Clearing Hospital." (It does seem that some British allies on the Western Front DID use the term 'field hospital' to refer to a specific facility--I do not, however, have a citation at hand)

I can't say their use of the term 'field hospital' is entirely wrong, but by the appearance of their tents and their statement "reality of working near the front line" (from here) that what they mean is a casualty clearing station. That brings up the next problem...

VADs at CCS: The ladies wearing the cape (tippet) are QAIMNS Sisters--'real' nurses. They are the correct personnel for a CCS. However, the new arrivals' uniforms are that of VADs. There were no VADs at CCS. I don't have any primary source to quote on this, but will defer to expert Sue Light who stated here: "Never, ever, did VADs work in CCSs."

Arrival clothing: The trailer here shows the ladies arriving in street clothing. However, a directive here suggests that they were required to travel in their uniforms:

"CAMP KIT FOR THOSE PROCEEDING ON ACTIVE SERVICE--The following articles are to be provided by all members when proceeding on active service abroad. Uniform only is to be taken; no plain clothes are required." I am not 100% certain, but seems I recall while reading Dorthea's War (Diary of VAD), she made note of all the female medical personnel traveling in uniforms.

Looking over the list, except for the VAD issue, my other quibbles are very minor and perhaps unfounded.

One thing I am anxious to see developed is the non-medical gal who I suspect is the 'rich lady from England who put up the money for the facility.' I have seen evidence for these non RAMC/Red Cross hospitals condoned by Belgian and Serbian gov't but not British. If anyone has primary source documentation of a private sponsored British CCS, I would be very interested in the details.

What have you noticed?

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.............. all that from just the trailer and promo? :w00t: I think you and Sue, are going to enjoy this programme :devilgrin:

Welcome to the forum Mo (don't mind if I call you Mo, do you?) I have looked at some of your other posts and thank you for all that excellent information, and for the generous offering of your notes. I may take you up on that at some point.

Stick around, great to have you on board

Mike

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looking forward to it

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The Crimson Field: What did they get right, and what was wrong?

On Sue Light's blog, she noted that when TV dramas like this do not accurately portray history, the general public, unfortunately, assumes the show's portrayal is fact. Unless someone points out the inaccuracies, even other researchers may unconsciously assume fiction is fact. This forum is an opportunity for a myriad of 'experts' to lend their knowledge to set the record straight. So, as the episodes unfold, please chime in on what you see as being accurate or inaccurate.

~Ginger Monette

Charlotte, NC

The accuracy of the storylines, costumes, props, circumstances and portrayal of WW1 programmes and series are invariably discussed on the GWF and essentially there are two different views.

Some say that anything which creates interest in WW1 is a good thing whether it is accurate or not, others that with the amount of information that is now fairly readily available and the number of knowledgeable advisors who can be consulted, that there is no excuse for getting it wrong.

Even if a the object of programme is to entertain, in an historical context, storyline, costume etc. then it should be accurate otherwise those who have had their interest aroused will be mislead and this is how myths and inaccuracies are fostered and perpetuated. I am firmly with Sue on this.

Thank you for starting this thread Mo - it should be very interesting as it develops.

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In 1917 the Matron-in-Chief, commenting on an illicit liaison between an nurse and an orderly on an ambulance train, wrote in the war diary:

'This simply does not bear writing about'

... and left it at that. I have to say that I feel very much the same about The Crimson Field. Whether reviewing and criticising the end result is worth all the angst it creates, I'm not sure ... yet.

But just to clear up the 'Field Hospital' problem. It was indeed used in South Africa for the equivalent of the WW1 Casualty Clearing Station, but it was not a term ever used within the medical services during the Great War. The Crimson Field is actually set in a tented BASE hospital on the French coast. The use of 'Field Hospital' has somehow crept in to the trailers, clips, interviews and 'blurb'. Those using it are twice wrong - once because it wasn't relevant to the Great War, and secondly because even if it had have been The Crimson Field does not take place within one.

Sue

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Brilliant bit in the Torygraph today mentioning that the nurses (VADs) would hold "Morphine parties" at which after discussing girlie things like who had the best hat over a cup of tea they would then inject each other with morphine sounds like a good time was had by all. I hope it’s not Downton Abbey with bedpans!

Norman :thumbsup:

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How ironic. Here are some of us gearing up to write accuracy critiques and Norman misrepresents what the Daily Telegraph article actually said - that diaries of ladies of Edwardian times (1901-10) refer to bored women having "a nice cup of lapsang souchong and gossip about who's got the best hat. Then they'd roll up their sleeves and give each other injections of morphine". There is no suggestion that they held such parties after they became VADs. And I wonder how common an Edwardian diary topic were morphine parties?

Moonraker

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Well, they do list it as a "drama" so one can assume it will inevitably contain inaccuracies. Whether they choose to take or disregard the advice of experts is something else. Why ask for advice and when it is given ignore it......but then it is a "drama" unless it is portrayed as factual. I must say I am with Sue when she says she finds it totally insulting to those experts to read interviews suggesting that their advice has ensured historical accuracy. She is absolutely correct and no one could argue with this - at the end of the day we still have to remember it is a "drama".

Anne

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