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Wings (1977/78) – #4 – S01 E04 – “Business As Usual” – Tim Woodward, Nicholas Jones, Michael Cochrane


This Episode

June 1915: “C” Flight is ordered to locate a German Howitzer so the artillery can attack it. Alan volunteers, but Captain Dornish insists on carrying out the task himself, taking a newly arrived observer, Guthrie, on the mission. When they fail to return, a new Flight Commander is required. Charles Gaylion is obliged to become acting CO until a replacement is appointed: Captain Triggers. When his plane fails en route, Triggers finds himself waiting at the railway station with a wounded Infantry Officer, where he learns the horrible truth of Dornish’s fate: shot down by British troops who resented having their positions given away to the enemy. Back in Sussex, 17-year-old Richard Hollis, a member of the local gentry, has been inspired by Alan’s progress in the RFC and visits Mrs Farmer regularly to borrow Alan’s books on the subject.


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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