Many history aficionados enjoy a good period mystery, especially when the historical elements are well attended to. For this, Masterpiece Mystery is often the producer of choice and the series “Foyle’s War” is arguably one of the best. The Nine-Part series begins in World War II England and is primarily set in Hastings, with an occasional diversion to London or Dover. Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle, played by Michael Kitchen, is tasked with the often unappreciated and inconvenient job of solving murders and associated nefarious activities within the backdrop of an England consumed by total war.

This is at the very least a very interesting theme made all the better by an accurate telling of lesser known historical events woven into the fictional murder plots. The looting of damaged homes following bombing raids, petrol theft, new treatments for burn victims, pro-Nazi political organizers, and more are just some of the topics used as a canvas for murder and mayhem.

Foyle's War on iTunes

Foyle’s War, Series 1

Michael Kitchen stars as Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Foyle in this original PBS Masterpiece Theatre mystery series. Set in the beautiful southern English countryside amid the disorder and danger of World War II, Foyle’s War takes place far from the glory of the front. His is an ordinary st…

Written by Anthony Horowitz, the episodes of this Masterpiece Mystery production are complex and intellectually engaging. They are also based upon historic facts and events that have been well crafted into the fictional who-done-it plots embellished with a rich assortment of authentic props; from Spitfires to Automobiles, Buses and Lorries to the detail of everyday objects.

All of the street and road scenes, including the occasional arrival of an incredible vintage bus or ambulance are rich with antique vehicles, most appearing to be in operating condition. It is not a show with a great deal of car chases and explosions or special effects but the Spitfires are real and the acting is always excellent.

Vintage makes of vehicles used in the series include Wolseley (used as Foyle’s car driven by his WREN driver “Sam”), Triumph, Rover, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Riley, Morris, Norton, Leyland, Jaguar, Humber, Hillman, Frazer Nash, Bedford, Austin, and others.

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Some experts can determine issues with certain vehicles that were used to film at a date in the plot prior to date of manufacture but in general–and especially for those not versed in extremely precise authenticity matters–Foyle’s War was crafted with extreme care. Note for example the headlight covers on all of the British vehicles.

In an interview Mr. Horowitz recounted that the British press enjoyed finding such inconsistencies and for one episode pointed out that a 1944 model Spitfire was used in 1943. That seems rather picayune as we owe a great deal to the efforts of the restorationists and enthusiasts who have managed to keep any vintage Spitfires intact, let alone flying!


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