The Crimson Field episode 3; 20 April 2014.

Rebel with a cause?

Rebel with a cause?

What are the main targets this time? It’s a lot to pack in to one hour.

1. Self inflicted wounds, therefore potential death sentence for cowardice; “Our feelings will do him no good at all – not now”;

2. The ‘Irish problem’. Sergeant complains about “hot heads rebelling against the British crown”; young man seen stoking rebellion at the field hospital – “He’s not the king of my fucking country” – thwack! on the nose;

3. Belgian refugees; this one provides the means for Joan Livesey to write to her German lover; which leads us to…

4. Having a pre-war relationship with the enemy;

5. a) Lust and b) class, not necessarily together but recurring themes in every episode so far;

6. Experimental surgery – the rebellious young doctor of the wrong class trying new techniques;

7. Men being brutalised by war, yukky necklace of chopped off ears worn by one soldier;

8. Homosexuality – men disappearing off into the woods AND *revelation of the week* – the prissy nurse has a gay brother;

9. Shellshock.

Cliche count: off the scale, good thing there isn’t a drinking penalty attached to this.

Irish stand off: one loyal to the crown, the other decidedly not.

Irish stand off: one loyal to the crown, the other decidedly not.


The Crimson Field BBC 1 episode one 6 April 2014

It was an interesting start to this BBC 1 series: it’s 1914, a young English nurse stands on board a boat going to France, she drops her wedding ring over the side and it sinks into the sea. Presumably this device signifies the character casting off her past in terms that today’s TV audience (especially younger women) will understand. But is it appropriate or historically accurate? And does it matter (hell yes, in my eyes). I heard a discussion about this very scene on Radio 4’s Front Row last week – would any nurse have gone into this conflict as an act of rebellion? Was it not more likely that women volunteered for overseas duties in the spirit of making a serious contribution to the war effort?


Three novice VADs as depicted in The Crimson Field. Marianne Oldham, Oona Chaplin and Alice St Clair.

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