Alan Waldman :
‘Foyle’s War’ is a smart English mystery series set during and just after WWII

Michael Kitchen is an unflappable British top cop who solves wartime crimes and post-war
spy shenanigans.

foyles war

Michael Kitchen is Chief Superintendent Foyle.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | November 19, 2014

[In his weekly column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. Most are available on DVD and/or Netflix, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

Set in the South English coastal town of Hastings during World War II, and in London shortly thereafter, Foyle’s War is a compelling crime drama that follows police inspector Christopher Foyle and his team as they solve a range of military and civilian crimes.

Eight seasons and 25 episodes have aired from 2003-2013. The series was cancelled in 2007, but was brought back by positive public demand and a number of complaints about the cancellation. It continued to be a ratings and critical success. Another season of three episodes is scheduled.

Waldman’s film and TV treasures you may have missed

Eight seasons and 25 episodes of Foyle’s War are available on Netflix and Netflix Instant streaming, including this one.

The strong cast is led by Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks, and Anthony Howell. Creator Sir Anthony Horowitz, O.B.E. wrote 28 episodes and has been chosen to pen the next James Bond 007 novel.

Foyle’s War was nominated for best drama series at the 2003 BAFTA Television Awards, and a year later Honeysuckle Weeks was chosen as The National Television Awards, UK’s Most Promising Newcomer.

At Internet Movie Database (imdb.com), more than 94% of viewers gave Foyle’s War thumbs-up, and more than 38% rated it a perfect 10. It was very strong with all demographics, but strongest with people 45 and older.

Chief Superintendent Foyle, assisted by his driver Samantha Stewart (Weeks) and Detective Sergeant Paul Milner (Howell), attempts to catch assorted criminals who are taking advantage of the confusion the war has created.

Foyle, a widower, is quiet, methodical, sagacious, and scrupulously honest, yet he is frequently underestimated by his foes. Many of his cases concern profiteering, the black market, and murder

anthony horowitz

Creator Anthony Horowitz.

Foyle is portrayed as very open-minded for a man of his time. He expresses compassion upon learning that one of his son’s friends is homosexual and distaste for prosecuting an attempted suicide. (Homosexual activity and suicide were criminal offenses at the time.) He is also reluctant to harass a left-wing activist purely for his political views. He alone opposes the imposition of a temporary color bar in Hastings when tensions erupt amongst black and white U.S. troops.

In episode 23 Foyle returns to England and is pressured into joining MI5, where his wartime driver Sam, now married to a Labor politician, joins him as a junior clerk.
The series is notable for its attention to historical detail and the drama is frequently moved along by historical events of World War II. The Imperial War Museum is credited in an advisory capacity in some episodes.

The show has aired throughout Africa and in China, Rumania, Russia and many other countries.

Sir Anthony Horowitz has written six episodes of Midsomer Murders, nine episodes of Poirot and episodes of 23 other series. Michael Kitchen has 115 film and TV credits, including Out of Africa, My Week With Marilyn, Goldeneye, Dalziel & Pascoe, and A Touch of Frost. He won the Best Actor BAFTA for starring in To Play the King. And Honeysuckle Weeks has appeared in Poirot and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.

The supporting/guest cast includes Edward Fox, Laurence Fox, Corin Redgrave, Michael Jayston, Bill Paterson, Stella Gonet, Peter Blythe, Joseph Mawle, Charles Dance, Tamzin Outhwaite, Philip Jackson, Alan Howard, Ronald Pickup, Roy Marsden, Rosamund Pike, Tim Pigott-Smith, Graham Crowden, Emily Blunt Phyllida Law, Peter Capaldi, David Tennan, and Oliver Ford Davies.

This is a very enjoyable series, particularly for those interested in history.

[Oregon writer and Houston native Alan Waldman holds a B.A. in theater arts from Brandeis University and has worked as an editor at The Hollywood Reporter and Honolulu magazine. Read more of Alan Waldman’s articles on The Rag Blog.]

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3 Responses to Alan Waldman :
‘Foyle’s War’ is a smart English mystery series set during and just after WWII

  1. Sue says:

    FYI:
    – Anthony Horowitz wrote 24 of the 28 Foyle’s War episodes.
    – Mr Horowitz doesn’t have a knighthood (he isn’t a ‘Sir’).
    – Michael Kitchen didn’t win the BAFTA for ‘To Play the King’ (though he was nominated).

    That’s the way the cookie crumbles. Perhaps if Mr Kitchen continues with his sterling work as DCS Foyle they’ll both get a gong ;0)

  2. JimG says:

    Yes ‘Foyle’s War’ and Kitchen are excellent in the best Brit tradition. But old now . . . the latest from PBS is ‘Worricker’ in a 3-part MI5 series in which John Nighy is a natural for understated character and suspense. Great story, great writing, great cast. Best yet, for me anyway – try it! [Blue Ray DVD is available from Amazon . . .]

  3. Terrence Ross Cowan says:

    Foyle’s War is an excellently written mystery and high quality visually with attention to light and detail–more like watching a well done movie than a TV show. There is chemistry among the actors. Foyle’s high character and intelligence, understated compassion, mastery at his job and dogged strength effectively resisting personal self-interest and control of powerful elites while doing it, is inspiring. And, it is a damn good mystery.

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