TV preview - The Great War: The People’s Story

Alison Steadman as  Hallie Miles in programme two of the First World War drama.
Alison Steadman as Hallie Miles in programme two of the First World War drama.
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extraordinary tales of ordinary people whose lives were transformed during the First World War continues with the real-life stories of Alan Lloyd (Matthew McNullty).

In this second episode, he has swapped life with his new wife and baby son for the battlefields of Ypres and the Somme.

The show also explores war on the Home Front - through the diaries of celebrity cook and restaurateur Hallie Miles (Alison Steadman), and suffragette Kate Parry Frye (Romola Garai).

Perhaps most memorable of all is the extraordinary bravery of soldier Reg Evans (Daniel Mays).

Aged 25, he enlisted in the Territorial Army in 1913; served with the Hertfordshire Regiment in France from 1914, and was seriously wounded in 1916, when a gunshot wound cost him most of his jaw.

In this dramatised episode, he undergoes pioneering plastic surgery.

One woman who has been integral to the series is Pamela Armitage Campbell, the author of new e-book Reg Evans DCM - A Hero’s War in His Own Words. She also happens to be his daughter.

Reg’s story is worthy of any big screen biopic, so if the chance arose, who does she think should play him?

“I don’t know these things, and because I was so young I’ve only really got his photographs to go by,” explains Pamela, 81.

“The only other person alive that I do know who would know is my cousin, who is 99. I spoke to her the other night and she said, ‘Oh I don’t think I’ll watch it (The Great War), because the young man doesn’t look anything like Reg, and he doesn’t sound like Reg.”

Pamela explained it would be impossible for her to tell the show’s producers who did look like him, and who did sound like him because she was a young girl when he died and could not remember his voice.

“She (Pamela’s cousin) said, ‘Oh it was a much more refined London accent than Daniel (Mays), who’s portraying him’.

“I said, ‘Well that’s as maybe when he was at home, but you have no idea really... he would probably just have taken on the accent of the men he was with.

“In those days you were either posh or you were a worker; the class system was such, and if your accent gave you away that you were a toff then he wouldn’t have had the confidence of the men he was with and trying to get the best from.”

Having transcribed Reg’s assorted notes and letters, it gave Pamela a better understanding of her dad, and mother.

“I tried to bring out the humour of my mother,” she explains. “To think this man who went through all these experiences in the war and in Russia, and he’d been a leader of men, and totally in charge of himself and everybody else and then she comes along! It makes absolutely hilarious reading,” she smiles.

“I hope I’ve done the best that I could do, and I hope that his story will be told, and will be enjoyed and not have people think, ‘Oh, not another war story!’ It’s a human story and a very funny one, and a very well written one from his perspective.”

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