The Great Martian War 1913 - 1917
History - 8pm
Who's in it?
A whole host of actors posing as historians, survivors and ex-soldiers were lined up for this cunning mock-doc about the "Great Martian War". And it was only slightly in the worst possible taste.
In a nutshell
Imagine if, a century from now, some TV channel makes a documentary about 9/11. Except, according to the narrator, the Twin Towers were felled by flying saucers, and the War on Terror was actually a War on Terrible Alien Invaders. The very idea will have most people spluttering and writing letters of outrage. And this programme, which re-imagined World War One as an HG Wells-style battle between humans and evil alien tripods, was in similarly "questionable" (ie, terrible) taste. Especially when it mingled footage of ACTUAL REAL trench soldiers with CGI death-robots. That ain't right.
And yet… it was all so brilliantly made that it swept us along. In a way, this was a pitch-perfect parody of all history documentaries. There were shots of stern historians walking through dingy archive rooms. There were interviews with the great-grandchildren of the soldiers, experts arguing about the Martian motives, and "new revelations" that overturned conventional thinking on the war. And in a perverse way, it's going to make it hard to take other, REAL history shows seriously from no on.
What's the verdict?
As a technical exercise in mockumentary-making, this ticked every box. But as pleasures come, it was a guilty one, particularly as so many of us only have the haziest knowledge of what World War One was really about anyway.