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Wings (1977/78) – S01 E02 – Never Turn Back – Tim Woodward, Nicholas Jones, Michael Cochrane


This Episode

April 1915: Alan Farmer’s training is well-advanced, and he shares accommodation with Sergeant MacIver, who already has experience of service with the RFC in France. Alan has had to spend time doing basic army training, whilst Charles Gaylion has already been able to complete his pilot training. Gaylion comes to visit, immediately prior to leaving for France, and now adopts a dismissive attitude towards Captain Triggers’ training, particularly to the advice he has been giving Alan and the others about how to defend themselves. Charles believes that there should be honour and chivalry between pilots and is shocked to learn that Triggers and Sergeant MacIver once destroyed a German plane before it had taken off. Alan and Charles quarrel before Alan goes home on leave. Before Charles leaves, MacIver explains the circumstances surrounding the killing of the German pilot, and Charles learns new respect for Triggers, who sees him off with regret and concern. While Alan is visiting his family, his relationship with Lorna begins to get more serious. His Uncle Harry quarrels with the blacksmith, Tom, about the raising of charges in the smithy, much to the disapproval of Alan’s mother, but the two men make up their differences. During a training flight, Alan’s engine fails on take-off, but he remembers Triggers’ advice “not to turn back” and crash-lands the plane in a field. The plane bursts into flames, but MacIver and Triggers rescue Alan from the wreckage. His training complete, Alan receives his “wings” and leaves for France.


Wings is a drama series about the Royal Flying Corps that ran on BBC television from 1977 to 1978. It stars Tim Woodward as Alan Farmer, a young blacksmith turned fighter pilot in World War I.

Nicholas Jones played his teacher and mentor, Captain Triggers, and Michael Cochrane played his upper-class friend, Charles Gaylion, who began a relationship with Farmer’s girlfriend while Farmer was believed dead, shot down over France.

The series reveals that the British pilots are struggling with aeroplanes which are both unreliable and inferior to the German machines, and with an Establishment that classes voicing an opinion to that effect as being tantamount to cowardice. The airmen must also face the resentment of British soldiers who see them having an “easy” life. The rigidity of the British class structure is highlighted when Farmer becomes an officer in the second series – he faces resentment both from some officers because of his class and NCOs because of his new rank. The series takes great care with historical accuracy, covering the early days of the parachute, the fitting of weaponry to British biplanes (lacking the Germans’ interruptor gear, they had to be fired at an angle rather than through the propellers) and the horrors of trench warfare. Wings depicts a Britain that is, in some areas, struggling to adapt in the face of change, at a period that was a turning point for many people’s way of life MORE AT LINK

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