TIM FAN­NING MY VIEW

Get­ting bogged down in the past, and then dig­ging it up, has never been so much fun

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FOOD & DRINK -

Iwas watch­ing Dig WW2 this week when I saw some­thing very strange. This ex­cel­lent new se­ries is about the his­tory of the war in North­ern Ire­land, or so I thought. For as I watched what I thought was a group of ar­chae­ol­o­gists in the North try­ing to lift great chunks of a Spit­fire out of a bog, what did I spot in the corner of the screen, but the fa­mil­iar lu­mi­nous jack­ets of the Garda Síochana. It turns out that the pi­lot who had taken off from RAF Li­mavady min­utes be­fore hav­ing had to bail out with en­gine trou­ble had been over the Free State when his plane went down. And so the dig for the Spit­fire was tak­ing place in Co Done­gal, rather than Co Derry. What this ge­o­graph­i­cal ac­ci­dent also meant was that, back in 1941, the Spit­fire’s pi­lot, a US vol­un­teer, was picked up by the au­thor­i­ties here and trans­ported off to the in­tern­ment camp at the Cur­ragh.

This fas­ci­nat­ing pro­gramme, pre­sented by the ever en­thu­si­as­tic Dan Snow, re­minded the viewer of just how much of the de­tri­tus of war lies on and around this is­land. Os­ten­si­bly it was about North­ern Ire­land’s con­tri­bu­tion to the war. But as war has lit­tle or no re­spect for po­lit­i­cal fron­tiers, much of the pro­gramme took place south of the Bor­der. Bud Wolfe, the pi­lot of the ill-fated Spit­fire, man­aged to es­cape from the Cur­ragh within two weeks. It has to be said se­cu­rity wasn’t ex­actly tight. As a sergeant in the mod­ern-day De­fence Forces ex­plained, the in­terned of­fi­cers, both Al­lied and Ger­man, had ac­cess to ev­ery con­ceiv­able al­co­holic bev­er­age known to man. The Ir­ish tip­ples of porter and whiskey were free. Un­der such cir­cum­stances, it’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine why any of the in­ternees would have wanted to es­cape. But es­cape they did. Bud Wolfe was back at his home base in Derry in a mat­ter of days. Of course, de Valera wasn’t too pushed about let­ting a few Al­lied fly­ers find their way home. It saved on the whiskey bill.

A two-part doc­u­men­tary about the his­tory of Ir­ish cen­sor­ship sounds like a good idea on pa­per, but TV3’S Banned was any­thing but good. There was a quick run through the his­tory of film cen­sor­ship in Ire­land, dur­ing which the Chris­tian name of one of the most re­cent cen­sors was in­cor­rectly given twice, then it was on to mu­sic videos, com­puter games and lit­er­a­ture, in no par­tic­u­lar or­der. The sole point of the pro­gramme seemed to be to show the en­tire orig­i­nal video for Du­ran Du­ran’s Girls On Film, which, pre­dictably was banned here in the early 80s. By the end of Banned, I was won­der­ing if maybe stricter cen­sor­ship isn’t such a bad idea…

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