Early in Spring 2009 Alan Plater got a phone call from ITV asking him if he would be up for writing a one-off original drama with a central role for Kevin Whately. They were thinking of a story set on Tyneside during the Second World War about the Home Guard.
Plater's response was 'You've just walked into my life!' This was his family's history through another door. 'I spent some time on Tyneside during the war; my uncle Harry was in the Home Guard so I've got all his stories to draw on.' Indeed, as a boy, Plater can remember the experience of being bombed while on Tyneside.
'Frankly, I never thought it would be made. It's going to be a bit expensive; above the average budget for a 90-minute television drama. That 1941-43 wartime period has to be re-created and that means finding authentic-looking streets, shops and so on. It's about three guys working in a shipyard. And all the shipyards have gone. You can cheat of course but it still costs a lot. A provisional budget was drawn up that nearly made me faint in horror! Then there was a very long silence. I thought they'd given up on the idea. Then, come October, I got a message from the office asking me to help prepare a press release on Joe Maddison's War. It's going ahead. It's so exciting.'
Whately and Robson Green are to play the two leads. The entire shoot will take place in Newcastle.
Alan Plater (photo: Craig Leng)