11th July 2004
Island at War debuts on ITV
ITV’s glossy drama, Island at War, was a hybrid tale of life in the occupied Channel Islands. It took inspiration from real-life events that occurred in both Guernsey and Jersey, but was set on a fictional stand-in, St Gregory, and filmed in the Isle of Man.
The six-episode series focused on three local families: the Dorrs, Mahys and Jonases. Joanne Froggatt, who would go on to take a lead role in Downton Abbey, played Angelique Mahy. Philip Glenister, who would star as Gene Hunt in both Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, played German officer Baron Von Rheingarten.
The first episode was broadcast on ITV on Sunday 11 July 2004 and the series ran through to 15 August.
Television, film and theatre industry newspaper The Stage reviewed the first episode, commenting, “It will be interesting to see how Island at War fares in the ratings. Intelligent, well acted and very lavish, this six-part drama concerning the Channel Islands under Nazi occupation nevertheless makes for challenging and distressing viewing… It promises to be an uncompromising depiction of a horrifying part of British history but on the evidence of episode one alone, Island at War will reward perseverance.”
The Times also reviewed the first episode, with writer Paul Hoggart saying, “Island at War is competent, easy on the eye and blandly entertaining. Nobody need go to bed with nightmares. Sadly this means that it is about as convincingly traumatic as a rubber shark.”
The Guernsey Press reported that reaction on Guernsey itself had been unfavourable, and that two locals who had lived through the war had “collected more than 1,000 signatures from people unhappy with the series’ content and sent them to the producer”.
ITV didn’t commission a second series despite national feedback having been good.
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Other events that occured in July
Jersey bailiff who helped organise the St Malo evacuation is born
- Sir Robert Hugh Le Masurier was born in Jersey and would rise to become one of the island’s youngest ever bailiffs.
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The British government offers St Catherine’s Breakwater to Jersey
- The States of Jersey officially accepted a ‘gift’ of St Catherine’s Breakwater from the British government in 1875.
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French prime minister disappears on Jersey boat trip
- A yacht carrying the former prime minister of France disappeared and was later discovered wrecked on a reef close to Jersey.
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