‘Treading on sacred turf’: History, Femininity and the Secret War in the Plays for Today Licking Hitler, The Imitation Game and Rainy Day Women

Alan Burton, Tom May

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The article examines the three single television plays Licking Hitler, The Imitation Game and Rainy Day Women, which were broadcast in the celebrated BBC drama strand Play for Today between 1978 and 1984. Each play was set within the secret war: at a radio station broadcasting black propaganda to Germany, at Bletchley Park, and at the heart of a secret mission to investigate dark doings in remotest Fenland. Similarly, each play dealt substantially with female characters and their troubled experience of wartime Britain. The plays provided a revisionist treatment of the mythology of the Second World War, painting a less cosy picture of the ‘People’s War’, with its supposed egalitarianism, shared sacrifice and vision of the different classes all supposedly ‘pulling together’. The article investigates the changing historiography of the secret war, a process in which the authorities attempted to manage the release of wartime secrets dealing with sabotage, resistance, deception and cryptography, and shows how the three dramas came into being through, and were influenced by, the opening up of the secret archive. Detailed attention to the production of the plays and their reception considers how the three historical dramas related to the Play for Today strand, traditionally celebrated for productions dealing with contemporary social and political issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-359
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of British Cinema and Television
Volume19
Issue number3
Early online date6 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

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