BBC Four has ordered a 75 minute one-off drama titled An Innocent Abroad about P.G. Wodehouse’s fall from grace and self imposed exile frome England. Tim Pigott-Smith, Zoe Wanamaker and Julian Rhind-Smith are set to star in the 75 minute film, which is due to star shooting on location in Belfast, Northern Ireland, later this month.
Written by Nigel Williams, An Innocent Abroad is set in the 1940s when Wodehouse, the writer behind Blandings and Jeeves and Wooster, became an unknowing propaganda tool for the Nazis. In the summer of 1940, P.G. Wodehouse (Tim Pigott-Smith) is living in Le Touquet, France, with his wife Ethel (Zoe Wanamaker). When the German army descends upon France, Wodehouse is arrested and held prisoner in an internment camp in Tost, Upper Silesia. Throughout his imprisonment, Wodehouse keeps an account of his experiences; amusing his fellow inmates with his witty observations, the like of which had already made him a successful and much loved writer the world over. However, the German Foreign Ministry soon comes up with the idea that Wodehouse may be convinced to broadcast on the Radio to ostensibly soften the image of the Third Reich. Wodehouse’s compliance with the request lands him in a firestorm back home, where he is condemned as a traitor by the press and the political establishment. With accusations of treachery brought to him by a young Malcolm Muggeridge (Julian Rhind-Tutt), Wodehouse and Ethel are forced into exile in America, never to set foot on British soil again. The 75 minute drama is being produced by Great Meadow Productions, with Robert Cooper and Stephen Wright serving as executive poducers and Tim Fywell on board as director.
Speaking of the drama, Kate Triggs, producer for Great Meadow Productions, said: “Nigel Williams’ script is pitch perfect. Unusually, it explores the paradox at the heart of Wodehouse’s character. On the one hand: a sharp-witted comic genius whose imaginative worlds still entertain millions. On the other: an innocent, utterly ill-equipped to handle the duplicities of wartime realpolitik. I am delighted to be working with Tim Fywell, a brilliant production team and a dream cast.”
While Stephen Wright, Executive Producer for BBC Four, said: “It is terrific to be working in Belfast with Great Meadow on a wonderful script from Nigel Williams.”