A Family At War TV Series Overview (1970-1972)


Introduction

A Family At War is a British drama series that aired on ITV from 1970 to 1972.

It was created by John Finch and made by Granada Television for ITV. The original producer was Richard Doubleday, and with 13 directors during the series.

The series examined the lives of the lower middle-class Ashton family of the city of Liverpool and their experiences from 1938 and through the Second World War.

Outline

The families Ashton, Briggs, and Porter live in Liverpool in 1938 and later (May 1938 to December 1945). Edwin Ashton, the son of a mineworker, has moved up to the middle class by working for a printing company and by marrying Jean, the sister of company owner Sefton Briggs. The latter is a hard businessman who appoints his son Tony as the new manager of the workplace, rather than the experienced Edwin.

Edwin and Jean have five children: Philip, David, Robert, Margaret, and Freda. Philip is a leftist who fought as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War. David joins the RAF because he cannot find another job. He is married to Sheila, but he impregnates Peggy. Robert, the youngest son, wants to join the Navy. Margaret, the eldest Ashton daughter, marries John Porter, but she has a troubled relationship with her mother-in-law Celia. All these events take place against the backdrop of the political conflict leading to the Second World War, which will have a major impact on their lives.

Cast

  • Colin Douglas as Edwin Ashton.
  • Shelagh Fraser as Jean Ashton.
  • Colin Campbell as David Ashton.
  • Barbara Flynn as Freda Ashton.
  • Keith Drinkel as Philip Ashton.
  • David Dixon as Robert Ashton.
  • Lesley Nunnerley as Margaret Porter.
  • Coral Atkins as Sheila Ashton.
  • John McKelvey as Sefton Briggs.
  • T.R. Bowen as Tony Briggs.
  • Ian Thompson as John Porter.
  • Diana Davies as Doris Jackson.
  • John Nettles as Ian Mackenzie.
  • Mark Jones as Michael Armstrong.
  • Margery Mason as Celia Porter.
  • Patrick Troughton as Harry Porter.
  • Brett Usher as Ken Beaumont.

Release

DVD

All episodes of A Family at War are available on DVD in the UK, distributed by Acorn Media UK, but with several of the episodes edited from their original running times. For example, in episode three, Margery Mason and Patrick Troughton are credited, but do not appear.

The series was released in the Netherlands in 2015 by Just Entertainment. Several brief scenes cut from the Acorn set do appear in the Netherlands set, such as the scene referenced above.

Trivia

  • John Finch states that he only wrote the original treatment as a ruse to be invited to the annual Granada conference where new drama ideas were discussed.
    • He was surprised that his idea was almost the only one discussed.
    • Granada was noted for avoiding lavish costume drama, but liked the concept of a drama based around less expensive studio-based domestic interiors with a minimum of location shooting.
  • The initial title was “Conflict”, reflecting family tensions as well as world events.
  • Fifty-two episodes were produced, all but eight of them in colour. Episodes numbers 25 to 32 were recorded in black and white because of the ITV Colour Strike.
  • The memorable theme tune is from the end of the First Movement (Allegro) of Vaughan Williams’s Sixth Symphony.
  • The programme opening titles show a scene of a beach with a child’s sand castle, with Union Flag flying, slowly being approached by the encroaching tide, symbolic of a beleaguered Britain standing alone in 1940-1941.
  • Other interpretations of the titles are of a Britain whose empire the war accelerated the collapse of, triggering a long decline in the nation’s fortune which continues today, indicated by the incoming tide washing away the sandcastle.

A Family At War Series

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Gerry Mill … (10 episodes, 1970-1972).
    • Baz Taylor … (8 episodes, 1970-1972).
    • Bob Hird … (7 episodes, 1970-1972).
    • Les Chatfield … (6 episodes, 1971).
    • Tim Jones … (5 episodes, 1970).
    • Michael Cox … (4 episodes, 1970).
    • Richard Doubleday … (3 episodes, 1970-1972).
    • June Howson … (3 episodes, 1970).
    • Richard Martin … (2 episodes, 1971).
    • James Ormerod … (1 episode, 1970).
    • Oscar Whitbread … (1 episode, 1970).
    • David Giles … (1 episode, 1971).
    • Quentin Lawrence … (1 episode, 1972).
  • Producer(s):
    • Richard Doubleday … executive producer / producer (52 episodes, 1970-1972).
    • John Finch … series editor (46 episodes, 1970-1972).
    • Michael Cox … producer / associate producer (45 episodes, 1970-1972).
    • Michael Dunlop … associate producer (13 episodes, 1971-1972).
    • James Brabazon … producer (2 episodes, 1971).
  • Writer(s):
    • John Finch … (series devised by) (52 episodes, 1970-1972).
    • Alexander Baron … (by) (6 episodes, 1970-1972).
    • David Weir … (by) (3 episodes, 1971).
    • Geoffrey Lancashire … (by) (2 episodes, 1970-1971).
    • Roy Russell … (by) (2 episodes, 1971-1972).
    • Jack Ronder … (by) (2 episodes, 1971).
    • Stan Barstow … (by) (1 episode, 1970).
    • James Brabazon … (by) (1 episode, 1970).
    • H.V. Kershaw … (by) (1 episode, 1970).
    • Elaine Morgan … (by) (1 episode, 1970).
    • Leslie Sands … (by) (1 episode, 1970).
    • John Stevenson … (by) (1 episode, 1970).
    • John Foster … (by) (1 episode, 1971).
    • Robert Furnival … (by) (1 episode, 1971).
    • Susan Pleat … (by) (1 episode, 1971).
    • Philip Purser … (by) (1 episode, 1971).
    • Jonathan Powell … (by) (1 episode, 1972).
    • John Wiles … (by) (1 episode, 1972).
    • John Brabazon … (unknown episodes).
    • John Ellison … (unknown episodes).
  • Music:
  • Cinematography:
  • Editor(s):
    • Stan Challis … (11 episodes, 1970-1972).
    • John W. Carr … (6 episodes, 1971-1972).
    • James Langfield … (5 episodes, 1970).
    • Don Kelly … (4 episodes, 1970-1971).
    • Fred Massey … (3 episodes, 1972).
    • Brian Tagg … (2 episodes, 1970-1971).
    • Gerry Dow … (1 episode, 1971).
    • Alan Ringland … (1 episode, 1971).
  • Production:
    • Granada Television.
  • Distributor(s):
    • ITV – Independent Television (1970-1972) (UK) (TV).
  • Release Date:
    • Series 01: 14 April 1970 to 04 August 1970.
    • Series 02: 11 November 1970 to 17 March 1971.
    • Series 03: 06 October 1971 to 16 February 1972.
  • Running Time: 60 minutes.
  • Rating: 12.
  • Country: UK.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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