August 23, 2011
Written by two women, Jill Hyem and Lavinia Warner, Wish Me Luck is about heroines, heroes and the not-so-heroic, from World War II. Naturally, there is romance, espionage, suspense, drama, blood and plenty of treachery.
Basically the background is history. The audience knows how the invasion at Normandy ends, but the events at Vassieux-en-Vercors in France, not so much.
In Couermont, the fictitious village located in a beautiful mountainous region on a geographically isolated and naturally protected hilltop near the Swiss border, tenacious French Resistance fighters and medical personnel were able - mostly - to operate, isolate and protect themselves from the Germans. The ladies more easily navigated the territory, as they were not readily considered a threat.
Meanwhile, a plan was conceived in England to provide a military distraction from the upcoming Normandy Invasion - to divert some of Germany's military might from converging in northern France. Where better than this southeastern France stronghold whose defiance so piqued the Germans? To this end, a cadre of female agents were engaged to facilitate the mission.
Ultimately over 20,000 Third Reich soldiers, who might otherwise have brought defeat to the Allied forces at the English channel, assembled in Vassieux-en-Vercors for an assault. The 178 village inhabitants, the almost 600 French Resistance fighters hiding in the cliffs, and the collaboration of a 4,000 strong international volunteer force, may have averted Hitler's victory.
This lesser known third front (counting Russia and Normandy), might have been smaller in scale, but monumental for the those who participated. In this historic backdrop, the fictitious lives on both sides of the battlefield are chronicled as the confrontation evolves.
Luck, both wishful and very bad, complicated the already complex intricacies of espionage, suspense, truth, lies, dreams, danger, deception, bravery and brutality.
Who is the audience? World War II history buffs, anyone who wants a break from macho war heroes, fans of spy thrillers, and aficionados of fine acting from the English stage.
There are no Extras. No interview with Nancy Wake, one of the real-life characters about whom the series was generated.
Nor will she be interviewed. Wake, who won more World War II medals than any other woman and worked in Vassieux-en-Vercors with the French Resistance, died this month (August 2011) at the age of 98.
Her story has been rewritten here, (as well as in Charlotte Gray with Cate Blanchett, and in her upcoming biopic, The White Mouse).
Filmed in both England and France, the 1988 three year, 23 episode series came to PBS in the 1990's.
These final eight installments focus on the English women who were engaged to infiltrate and spy on the Nazis at the denouement of the war.
Studio: ITV Studios / Acorn Media
Director: Bill Hays
Cast: Jane Asher, Shirley Henderson, Jane Snowden, Kate Buffery, Terrence Hardiman, Michale J. Jackson
Length: 414 minutes (8 Episodes)
Rated: Not Rated
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Dolby Digital Mono