Who remembers “A Game of War?’

By Rob Morgan

Sorting through some ancient videotapes, destined for disposal, I found, along with the kids’ “Postman Pat” and”My Little Pony,” a long forgotten and damaged tape. In my own barely legible hand it reads….

“A Game of War”  1997

Iain Dickie

  1. Naseby. 2 …”

That’s it! The recording, undoubtedly made at home over 20 years ago, can’t be played again, so it’s down to memory. I think that this was a group of wargamers playing out the English Civil War battle with 25mm figures, but can’t recall who the others were. It must have been a series of battles, and for some reason Waterloo and Agincourt come to mind, but little else.

Does anyone else remember this series? Can anyone fill in a gap or two? It must have been one of the last wargame representations shown on TV, not that there were ever that many.

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5 Responses to Who remembers “A Game of War?’

  1. JWH says:

    It had Angela Rippon as the host, with Iain Dickie, Paddy Griffith & Arthur Harman. The players were real (retired) generals, advised by military historians. They did Naseby, Balaklava & Waterloo.

    See https://www.planetdiecast.com/index.php?option=com_zoo&task=item&item_id=28877&Itemid=2544 for the general idea.

  2. Bob Cordery says:

    I think that you might be confusing BATTLEGROUND, which was fronted by Edward Woodward, with GAME OF WAR, which was hosted by Angela Rippon. The former featured toy soldiers fighting over sculpted terrain (I think these were provided by Peter Gilder) and the latter was a kriegsspiel fought by two competing teams. The umpires in GAME OF WAR were Dr Paddy Griffith and Arthur Harman, with Iain Dickie acting as an historical adviser.

    Episodes of BATTLEGROUND are available to watch on YouTube.

  3. JAird says:

    I recall being quite excited when this series popped up on , I think, Channel 4. Great – Paddy Griffiths, and kriegspiel man of the moment Arthur Harman. It’ll be great! A modern take on Battleground.

    Oh, how wrong could I be. I watched it dutifully – in fact I probably have a VHS recording of all the episodes stashed away somewhere in the “archives” – but with little real enjoyment. As I recall Angela Rippon seemed mostly bemused, and the hidden movement Umpire driven Kriegspiel seemed to quickly become of a secondary importance.

    In comparison Battleground episodes are well worth searching out for on youtube, Edward Woodward was a great presenter and made the whole thing entertaining and immediate. Here’s Gettysburg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jDo-XaRxl4 – and if you ever wondered what happened to the setup used in the Callan film, well Edward Woodward bought it !

  4. George Arnold says:

    Rob Morgan writes the following:

    I’m very pleased that several members have been able to prod my memory over ‘Game of War’. I suspect my reason for placing it firmly on the backburner of the old grey cells is that it was poorly introduced (why Angela Rippon, I wonder?) and provided a concrete example of the problems wargames faced then, figures, boardgames or machines? It wasn’t a great series, and the anticipation wasn’t worth it. Not at all.

    Bob Cordery, no confusion in my mind. I recall Edward Woodward’s superb, if short ‘Battle Ground’ series very well. It was competently introduced, well presented, and splendidly enthusiastic, I don’t have any copies, but I did look it up on YouTube again. Highly recommended stuff. Edward Woodward comments at one stage in the ‘Gettysburg’ game episode, that wargaming was among the fastest growing of hobbies. Ah! Those were the days, brethren! I can remember thinking, oh, if they’d only ‘do’ Blenheim, or Culloden, or The Boyne.
    Maybe someone can indicate just how involved this fine actor was in wargaming?

    I met him once, and briefly, in the late 70’s, or was it the early 80’s, in ‘Gamers in Exile’, and he was among a small group, it was a small shop, discussing ‘Hinton Hunt’ Napoleonic figures (Excellent range, remember them?). He was cast, perhaps accidentally, into wargaming in the acting persona of the secret agent ‘Callan’ in the late 60’s TV series, but I’d forgotten there was a film spin-off. Woodward was on the cover of John Tunstill’s ‘Miniature Warfare’ in the Summer of 1970, with a description of the place of Napoleonic games in the ‘Callan’ series, and a number of photos. The magazine was only occasionally seen in shops here in Wales, and my collection is far from complete, but my guess is that Edward Woodward appeared in it more than once. I’ve no idea if he ever wrote for a wargames magazine, or was a Society or wargames club member anywhere.

    — Rob Morgan

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