21st January 1978

First episode of Enemy at the Door broadcast

Although set in Guernsey, ITV’s successful occupation-era drama, Enemy at the Door, was actually filmed in Jersey. Its two series ran from 21 January 1978 until 29 March 1980 and, over 26 hour-long episodes, gave a lightly fictionalised account of Guernsey’s occupation.

The first episode opened with the German forces arriving to occupy the island. Although Britain had demilitarised the islands, they’d omitted to tell the Germans and the occupying forces refused to recognise the fact. Instead, they placed the island under martial rule, at least as an interim measure.

One of the locals attempts to escape to the mainland but fails, and he’s injured in the process. This doesn’t help to build trust between the Germans and the locals. The occupation hasn’t got off to a good start.

Drama and conflicts

There are several points of friction between the characters, and not just between the Germans and locals. The local doctor, who stands up for the Guernsey residents naturally comes up against the Commandant, Dieter Richter. Richter, meanwhile, is a thoughtful and considerate man, which puts him at odds with those who are higher up the chain of command and feel he ought to be more severe.

Enemy at the Door was the first television series to feature Anthony Head. He went on to star in Nescafe adverts, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Little Britain. One episode also featured John Nettles, who would later return to Jersey to take the title role in the BBC detective series Bergerac.

In 2004, ITV broadcast a single series of Island at War, which although once again focusing on the occupation of the Channel Islands, was filmed on the Isle of Man.


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Other events that occured in January