Guest Review: War Book  (available on iPlayer)
Drama in which civil servants take part in a regular role-playing game to practise their response to a nuclear explosion leading to all-out nuclear war.
I happened to catch this by accident while browsing iPlayer and mistook it for something completely different and I was so glad that I gave it a chance.
The first character that we see is Nathan Stewart-Jarrett from the much underrated Utopia and then shortly thereafter appears Adeel Akhtar from the same show – both of these characters made me realise this was NOT the show I thought it was.
The premise is simple; a government ‘War Game’ which runs through the options available to the UK in the event of a nuclear strike, not necessarily with ourselves being the target, but just a missile strike in general. The setting is a stark and very 70’s era looking meeting room in which we will be sat for the proceedings. I immediately drew comparisons from Sidney Lumet’s ‘12 Angry Men’, and the subject matter reminded me of Peter Watkins excellent documentary ‘The War Game’.
What follows is set almost entirely within the confines of the drab room but had me enthralled for the 90 minutes of running time, by the end I wished it had ran on longer. We are introduced to the characters or ‘Ministers’ one by one as they simply and effectively lay their characters out with little fuss or fanfare. We see some familiar roles ‘the liberal’ and the ‘ruthless womaniser’ being the most vocal but others are brought into play as they discuss the decisions that they would have to make during the make-believe crisis, and we see how they would be affected in this process.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I will just say, that not everyone is as they seem, and some are driven by ulterior motives. The discussions and decisions that they go through bring up to date what possibly could happen in a nuclear situation, and while these kind of topics have been covered previously in the quite terrifying THREADS by Mick Jackson, they gain more power when put into today’s socio-political climate.
I’m not saying this is a true to life representation of how the powers that be will decide the future of the world, or that it is the next Dr Strangelove, just that it’s a very well written and acted 90 mins that deserves much more attention than it got.
Written by Bob Workman @ Borlands, Darts & Television.
War Book  is available on iPlayer for the next month.