If the privileged aristocrats of ‘Downton Abbey’ cared to know about the underpinnings of World War I, they would take up roles in ’37 Days’.
The new fact-based drama on BBC Two takes a look at the political discussions and decisions leading up to World War I. Created for the BBC World War I centenary season, ‘37 Days’ aims to tell an unbiased, accurate depiction of wartime situations from the perspective of people who were directly involved in the operations.
During a time of high political strife and social tension in Europe, government leaders juggled the principles within their country’s foreign policy. In Episode 1, Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey attempts to respond to the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and work out relations with the other European nations, particularly Germany.
Ian McDiarmid leads the memorable cast in portraying their characters’ temperament through rich dialogue and emotional aloofness. The narrator of the episode shifts from an Irish telegraph runner to a German liberal working in the Reich Chancellery, both of whom provide an open-minded perspective of the uptight and otherwise secretive environment of their offices.
The programme recreates the era of history as if it were 1914 today, though fortunately not. The scenes in Episode 1 only begin to unfold the drastic events that would greatly impact the world we currently live in.
For any WWI historiphiles, ’37 Days’ may just be their cup of tea.
37 Days is on BBC now