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TV REVIEW: 37 Days, BBC2, Thursday March 6

By Western Gazette - South Somerset  |  Posted: March 07, 2014

The docu-drama is set during the period between the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28th 1914 and the declaration of war 37 days later

Comments (1)

It's often when watching a docu-drama like this that you realise just how patchy your own knowledge is.

Sure, I was aware that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28th 1914 - I can at least credit my history teacher with leaving that fact firmly wedged in my brain.

But precisely how things so swiftly escalated into a conflict which became one of the greatest human tragedies of all time, is a bit of a mystery.

I say swiftly but as the first part of the BBC's unflinching glimpse into what went on in the corridors of power after the shots that took Franz Ferdinand's life were fired, nothing much at all initially happened with the bizarrely decadent Austrian rulers unwilling to be rushed into seeking retribution against the Serbs before finally delivering a series of demands which were so utterly preposterous that rejection and conflict were inevitable.

Writer Mark Hayhurst delivered a script based on source material from the British and German governments and, while brilliant, it also played like an episode of QI.

Franz Ferdinand was only killed because his driver got lost, giving Gavrilo Princip an unexpected chance at assassination as he rocked up outside the cafe where he was drowning his sorrows.

The German, Russian and Austrian representatives in London were all cousins.

Kaiser Wilhelm liked to sniff tables. Well... maybe there was some artistic licence.

But it was a fascinating watch with actors like Tim Pigott-Smith and Ian McDiarmid providing performances which perfectly anchor the remarkable story.

And it gives the BBC the chance the show what it can sometimes do best, entertain and inform.

The second part will be shown tonight, concluding tomorrow.

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  • josemjohns  |  March 07 2014, 11:05AM

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