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Wings (1977/78) – S02E08 – “Officers and Gentlemen” – Tim Woodward, Nicholas Jones, Michael Cochrane, David Troughton


This Episode

Alan Farmer shoots down a German observation balloon, but spares the unarmed observer; he is told by Triggers to stay away from the balloons in future. Triggers is intending to recommend Farmer for a commission, but is disappointed with the response from his other officers. Bravington has reservations about his “suitability”. Mills and Starling accept the news philosophically but there are signs of resentment from the NCOs. When a German plane drops a note about an injured British airman, Alan misunderstands his purpose and shoots down the German, gaining further criticism. After a disastrous interview, in which Alan’s background and academic record are picked over by the selection panel, he goes to a bar where he experiences further resentment from embittered members of an infantry division. Alan drinks with their sergeant, who is at first sympathetic, but then criticises Alan for not having killed the German observer, telling him that the balloon was quickly repaired. That same evening, Triggers is visited by the chairman of the selection panel, who wants to understand his reasons for recommending Alan for a commission. On Alan’s next flight, he makes a point of attacking the German observation balloon again, this time killing the observer; to his surprise, Triggers seems pleased by his action. He then receives the news that he has been commissioned, and is welcomed into the officers’ mess.



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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