Fi­nal days

BBC History Magazine - - Tv & Radio -

The Last Post DVD (2en­ter­tain, £19.74)

On 10 De­cem­ber 1963, the Bri­tish High Com­mis­sioner of Aden, Sir Kennedy Trevaskis, was tar­geted in a grenade at­tack at Khor­mak­sar air­port. So be­gan what came to be known as the Aden Emer­gency, in ter­ri­to­ries that now form part of Ye­men.

The Bri­tish even­tu­ally with­drew from the area in 1967 fol­low­ing a con­flict that, viewed at 50 years re­move, is un­com­fort­able to look back upon. Which is per­haps why we need to look back, as writer Pe­ter Mof­fat’s un­der­rated drama does.

Its fo­cus, re­flect­ing Mof­fat’s own child­hood as the son of an of­fi­cer, is on the lives of Royal Mil­i­tary Po­lice based in Aden dur­ing the emer­gency. Th­ese are men con­stantly at risk from guerilla at­tack who are de­fend­ing the last ves­tiges of em­pire, yet this is also the 1960s and things are start­ing to swing at the sun-bleached BP Club. The con­tra­dic­tions are glar­ing. On its TV broad­cast on BBC One, The Last Post was crit­i­cised for be­ing soapy but, view­ing the se­ries as a whole, it emerges more as a por­trait of a com­mu­nity un­der stress. That’s not to ex­cuse Bri­tish vi­o­lence in Aden, but more a way to say that The Last Post ex­am­ines the be­hav­iour of Brits abroad crit­i­cally yet sym­pa­thet­i­cally.

Jes­sica Raine stars in the drama about Bri­tish army life dur­ing the Aden Emer­gency

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