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World at war from a fresh perspective.

THE PASSING BELLS (BBC1, Monday - Friday, 7onday 7 Friday pm) WRITER Tony Jordan Jordan T says he found himself sobbing like a child as he spent hours and hours writing First World War drama THEPassing Bells in his back garden.

"It's not about armies, or nations, causes of war, rights and wrongs of war, goodies or baddies. It's just about boys," says the writer about boys," says the writer behind TV hits like Hustle ustle and Life On Mars.

The powerful BBC drama sees the conflict of the war unfold through the eyes of two very ordinary young men - TV TV the the - one British and one German.

Jack Lowden, who recently won the Olivier recently won the Olivier and Ian Charleson Awards, an Charleson Awards, plays young German Michael and says: "He's a young man who joins up because he thinks it's his duty and because his dad fought."

The series has been commissioned to mark the centenary of the First World War and follows the lives of Thomas and Michael over five years as they grow up, lose friends and find love amid the horrors of the war.

Tony.says: "says: ""I was interested in telling the stories of the young men who were sent to war, the really young men who lied about their age to be able to go.

"It meant something to me because I've got sons, and although they're in their early 20s now I can certainly remember them in their late teens.

"I wanted to tell a story from their perspective, to show what it must have been like for a boy to be sent to the other side of Europe to fight in the most terrible war that has ever been."

He looked at war films and TV dramas, but wanted to do something different for the centenary. different for the centenary.

of of "The one thing that "The one thing that always binds war movies always binds war movies together in that genre together in that genre is that there are always is that there are always good guys and bad guys and I wanted to move away from that," says says Tony. T "In The Passing Bells there are no good guys,are no good guys, thereno good guys, there aregood guys, there are nothere are no bad guys. Y ou're not sure what's right, ou're not sure what's right, Y what's wrong, because that to what's wrong, because that to me is the perspective of the boys that we sent there.

week week "The boys didn't know - they didn't even know where they were half the time. They certainly didn't know about the tactics or the nature of a world war because it had never happened before. So it's written from their perspective. The antagonist, the only bad guy if you like, in the whole thing is the war itself."

The title, The Passing Bells, comes from a poem by First World War poet Wilfred Owen and describes the sound of the funeral bells tolling to mark the passing on of the deceased.

Paddy Gibson says it was the script itself that attracted him to the role of British soldier Tommy. "| IIntended to read the first episode and sat down thinking I'd look at episodes two and three the next day, but I couldn't stop. When you can't stop reading, that's a good sign for any series.

"I think it's unusual and it hasn't been done before. I think that's really strong and to step back and realise that anyone dying or being killed for any reason isn't right. That has justified the show."

As the series begins, we see farmer's son Michael and delivery boy Thomas defying their parents by heading to the recruiting office, although neither has any idea what they are signing up for.

Tony says: "In 1914, certainly on the British side, the boys believed what they were told; it's going to be over by Christmas, it's only four months, if you don't sign up now you'll have missed it all and it's exciting.

"You're put in a boat and you go to a foreign country and you meet loads of new friends. But that's a completely different picture to skipping on a few years and suddenly you're in the middle of the Somme."

The first instalment sees the two men facing up to some of the realities of war, as Tommy struggles to find his feet, Michael misses his girlfriend, and both their families struggle to cope with the idea of their sons being sent to the frontline.

Paddy says it is important to remember the events of 100 years ago. "I don't think you can forget these things, out of respect to all those people who fought. I think it's partly commemoration and a part of paying your dues to those who fought to protect their countries.

"Hopefully it is a lesson as well.

Looking back on these things we have to learn from history and hopefully we can only improve and learn that maybe it didn't need to happen that way, maybe people didn't need to die."

' the only bad guy if you like, in the whole thing is the war itself." - Tony Jordan, writer of the Passing Bells


Michael |(Jack Lowden), William (Simon Kunz), Susan (Jennifer Hennessy), Sarah (Ewelina Zawistowska)

Ben (Jordan |Murphy), Anthony (Adam Long), Thomas (Paddy Gibson), and Kevin (Ben McGregor) and below are Katie (Sabrina Bartlett) and Michael (Jack Lowden)
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Nov 2, 2014
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