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Published on Nov 14, 2012
Days of Hope (BBC, 1975) was Ken Loach's first historical piece and, although tracing events fifty or more years previous, it was strongly informed by the contemporary situation of the 1970s. Parallels can be drawn between the political and industrial struggles of the 1910s and '20s and the 1970s, particularly in the treatment of the 1926 General Strike and the industrial unrest. "Episode One: 1916" introduces viewers to the four main family protagonists. Pacifist Christian socialist Philip Hargreaves (Nikolas Simmonds) has married into a Yorkshire farming family. While his wife Sarah (Pam Brighton) supports him, other members of the Matthews family are either hostile or apathetic. Despite being warned about the realities of war by a soldier on leave, Ben Matthews (Paul Copley) enlists while Philip is arrested as a conscientious objector and condemned to death on the front-line after other coercive measures (mentioned above) fail. Only a last minute reprieve saves him from execution. The episode concludes with Ben in Ireland witnessing national resilience against the British invaders.