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TV: W is for...

War Game, The

Position the door at a 45 degree angle to the innermost wall of your house You're listening an emergency broadcast from the BBC in London; Britain has come under nuclear here's Round The Horne!

MICHAEL ASPEL announces the end of the world while a boy’s face catches fire and a bloke’s cabbages get squashed. Famously buried until 1985 by a scared Beeb in the same place they now keep all those episode of Have I Got News For You with Paul Merton referring to Princess Diana as “an overblown tart”. PETER WATKINS wrote and directed, inspired by the UK’s then-hapless and half-arsed “official” plans on what to do when the balloon went up, i.e. send a man round on a motorbike to tell everyone to keep their head down. Resulting unrelentingly grim and grisly carnage still shocks today, and not just by having Asp on voiceover.



  1. TVS

    June 26, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    “I don’t wanna be nuffing”

    With all the Wacko Jacko rubbish on Al Beeb…I thought I would cheer myself up and watch this.

    Top draw viewing and still scary, even in black and white…a great piece of social history.

  2. Lee James Turnock

    May 4, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Not the kind of thing to watch if you need cheering up.

  3. johnnyboy

    May 27, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Voiceover to woman in street: “Do you know what Strontium 90 will do to the human body?”

    Woman (in unsettlingly posh accent), “I’m so sorry. I’ve no idea what that is.”

  4. Kevin

    August 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    One of the hideously laughable bits is the self-important Civil Defence chap telling the viewers that the government leaflet on protecting yourself against nuclear attack cost ninepence. As the American’s would say even in death we were being nickled and dimed…

  5. Glenn Aylett

    April 24, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    An interesting choice of location for the place that was nuked was Rochester, due to being near to RAF Manston. Again in 1984, rather than choosing London, the BBC used Sheffield for Threads. Perhaps this was to show anywhere that was near an RAF station, had a large amount of industry and was a railway junction( Crewe is mentioned in Threads) could be attacked.

  6. Tom Ronson

    October 25, 2022 at 6:12 pm

    The director of photography on this was Peter Bartlett, who went on to work on Rutland Weekend Television and also directed The Queen’s Speech numerous times (apparently Eric Idle was easier to work with than Her Majesty).

  7. Glenn Aylett

    February 18, 2023 at 1:28 pm

    People tend to think of Michael Aspel as a game show or chat show host, but in the early part of his career he spoke with a more serious BBC English accent, was an in vision announcer at the height of the Auntie era and was a natural choice as narrator for The War Game. AsK Aspel was still some years away.

  8. Droogie

    February 18, 2023 at 10:12 pm

    Seeing Threads ( and The War Game repeat ) in the 80’s as a kid scared me more than any horror movie could when WW3 and Nuclear Armageddon seemed inevitable. However watching them now seems quaint. Russia being able to send a tactical nuclear missile precisely to specific parts of the UK back then seems a lot of bollocks now, especially watching Putin’s rubbish attempts at world domination

  9. Glenn Aylett

    February 19, 2023 at 12:30 pm

    Odd how 15 years later, Michael Aspel had completely reinvented himself as a light hearted game show host rather than a stern sounding narrator of a documentary about a nuclear war. Perhaps the move to ITV changed him as he never did anything as serious again.

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