It’s Official: BBC Two Orders WWI Drama ‘The Wipers Times’

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Back in November 2012, TVWise broke the news that the BBC was developing a one-off about the satirical World War I magazine The Wipers Times which was being penned by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, with Andy de Emmony attached to direct. Then in March 2013, shortly after production started on the drama we reported that the film was being produced by Trademark Films for BBC Two with a cast that included Ben Chaplin, Emilia Fox (Silent Witness), Michael Palin (Monty Python), Steve Oram (Kill List) and Julian Rhind-Tutt (The Hour). Now that production has wrapped on the drama, with director Andy de Emmony moving on to helm Sky1’s mini-series Moonfleet, BBC Two has officially announced the project. The press release follows below…

BBC Two announces The Wipers Times, written by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, starring Ben Chaplin, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Michael Palin, Steve Oram and Emilia Fox

Janice Hadlow, Controller BBC Two and BBC Four, today announces new history drama commission, The Wipers Times.

The Trademark Films production stars Ben Chaplin (London Boulevard; Me and Orson Welles; The New World), Michael Palin (Monty Python and the Holy Grail; Life of Brian), Julian Rhind-Tutt (The Hour; Green Wing), Steve Oram (Sightseers; Kill List) and Emilia Fox (Silent Witness; Merlin).

In the bombed- out ruins of Ypres in 1916 Captain Fred Roberts and Lieutenant Jack Pearson discovered a printing press.  They used it to produce The Wipers Times – a humorous, satirical and subversive trench newspaper which proved hugely popular with soldiers – though not entirely with their superior officers.

Braving constant bombardment and bitter fighting, The Wipers Times survived the Somme and made it through to the end of the war. Roberts and Pearson were highly decorated – yet were unrecognised in their lifetime. The Wipers Times is a story of the extraordinary resilience of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming adversity.

The Wipers Times will be directed by Andy de Emmony (Love Bite; West is West; The Bletchley Circle), produced by David Parfitt (My Week with Marilyn; Parade’s End; Shakespeare in Love) and written by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman (A Bunch of Amateurs; My Dad’s The Prime Minister).

Janice Hadlow, Controller BBC Two, says: “Just like the original Wipers Times, this new history drama will be filled with jokes, spoofs and amazing examples of courage behind the laughs. I am delighted to be bringing such a brilliant drama and cast to BBC Two.”

The Wipers Times was commissioned by Janice Hadlow, Controller BBC Two and Four and Martin Davidson, Commissioning Editor BBC History.

The Executive Producer for the BBC is Martin Davidson and Ivan Mactaggart for Trademark.