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Blog // Thoughts
September 18, 2009

The Big Battalions

The Big Battalions was one of the most compelling things I’ve ever seen on television. It was screened in Australia and I remember taping the whole thing and re-watching it a few times. Over the years I’ve been amazed at how few people had seen the series and wondered why it hasn’t been re-screened, or […]

The Big Battalions was one of the most compelling things I’ve ever seen on television. It was screened in Australia and I remember taping the whole thing and re-watching it a few times. Over the years I’ve been amazed at how few people had seen the series and wondered why it hasn’t been re-screened, or released on DVD.

Carnival Films were the producers and here is the synopsis of the show, from their website.

“An epic saga of faith and fanaticism that moves between the heart of England, the Holy Land and the ancient hinterlands of Ethiopia. It weaves together the stories of three families – Christian, Muslim and Jewish. Some are just searching for something to believe in, while others are prepared to shed blood in the name of God.

EDWARD HOYLAND (Brian Cox), the Archdeacon of Birmingham wants power and loves publicity. When his ambitions are thwarted his life is irrevocably changed and he comes face to face with his faith. His wife, MARTHA (Jane Lapotaire), embittered by his self-interest, is forced to confront the conflict of her marriage and faith when she becomes the victim of a kidnapping.”

I’ve written to both Channel 4 and Carnival in the past and whilst they’ve been very polite, there doesn’t seem to be a prospect of the programme being released on DVD anytime soon. The story, which shifts from the suburbs churches of the UK, to the timeworn plains of Gondar and the religious conflicts of the Middle East seems so timely and relevant that I’m sure it would find an audience today. Moreover, what I remember of the story would be fascinating to everyone interested in how questions of faith and spirituality can be explored through films and television.

Responses
Bob Campbell 13 years ago

I agree that the “Big Battalions” was a great TV series. I watched it on Canadian TV (CBC) while living in Detroit, Michigan (Windsor, Ontario is just across the river). I had taped a final section of it, but this got wiped out. Then, I discovered a CD of the music, and ordered it from someone in England. I did write Channel 4 and got a lukewarm reply as to whether it would ever be released to video. It only got mediocre reviews in England.

Fernando Gros 13 years ago

Bob – thanks for the comment. Let’s keep writing to them in the hope that it sees release one day.

    NCC1620 2 years ago

    It’s a fantastic show… Sidcity.net has been given special permission by C4 to run a special screening of the series and I beliece a Q&A with the writer via Zoom (April 2021)

Ros Harper 12 years ago

It was a great series. I watched it in Australia after returning from the Middle East. I have since worked in Africa. I would really like to see it again. Who can I write to, to encourage them to release it on dvd?

    Fernando Gros 12 years ago

    Ros – the programme was originally broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK and produced by Carnival Films.

    It’s been a while since I wrote to both them. Maybe it’s time to pick that up.

Nick Rice 12 years ago

I’ve been trying to track this down since the late 90’s as I was an extra (One of the choristers – actually the senior members of Guildford Cathedral Choir) in episode 1.

The chapel where this section was actually filmed is the chapel of Charterhouse School in Godalming, Surrey,

I would love for this to get an outing on DVD. I never got chance to see it as a child and the only episode that I videod was the first.

    TheBigBattalions 2 years ago
    NCC1620 2 years ago

    SidCity.net will host an exclusive screening series of The Big Battalions.

    Thanks to the folks at Channel 4, SidCity.net have been granted permission to screen all six episodes via Zoom. The Big Battalions is a CARNIVAL (FILMS AND THEATRE) LIMITED Production for Channel 4 Television.

    the six-part miniseries will screen over three Saturdays: April 10, April 17, and April 24.

    Registration is required and a donation is requested.

    Mike Bailey 7 months ago

    I was also an extra when it was being filmed in Birmingham. I remember being in the same scene as Brian Cox and Malcolm Sinclair. Now that it is showing on All4, I’m definitely going to watch it.

Stephanie Fish 5 years ago

What or why is this series is not available. I am now 80 and remember it above any other dramas and would die happy if I could watch it just one more time.

Judith Matisons 3 years ago

This cd is one I cherish. I would love to see the original program again

    Hugh Stoddart 1 year ago

    The Big Battalions is available in the UK on C4 catch-up (All4)

Kelas 2 years ago

Does anyone have a copy of this program?

    Hugh Stoddart 1 year ago

    The Big Battalions is available in the UK – Channel 4 catch-up (All4)

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