Foyle's War is a British detective drama television series set during and shortly after the Second World War, created by screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz and commissioned by ITV after the long-running series Inspector Morse came to an end in 2000. It has been broadcast on ITV since 2002. Simon Shaps, then ITV's director of programmes, cancelled Foyle's War in 2007, but numerous complaints and positive public demand prompted the next ITV director, Peter Fincham, to revive the programme after successful ratings in series five, which was broadcast in 2008.
On 12 January 2015, ITV announced that no more episodes will be commissioned due to the high costs of production and its intention to broadcast original drama commissions. The last episode was broadcast on 18 January 2015.
Foyle, a widower, is quiet, methodical, sagacious, and scrupulously honest, yet he is frequently underestimated by his foes. Many of his cases concern profiteering, the black market, and murder. Foyle often comes up against high-ranking officials in the British military or intelligence services who would prefer that he mind his own business, but he is tenacious in seeking justice.
In a newspaper article and in his interview that accompanies the first series DVD set, Anthony Horowitz explained that he was seeking a name that evoked the early 1940s and thought of Foyles bookshop in London's Charing Cross Road, once known for its archaic practices and its owner Christina Foyle. Christopher was the nearest male name to Christina.
After Christina Foyle's death, control of Foyle's passed in 1999 to her nephew, who incidentally is named Christopher Foyle. Christopher Foyle was given a cameo in the episode "Bad Blood"; though the scene was cut from the PBS airings in the US.
Each episode runs for about 90 to 100 minutes, filling a two-hour time slot on ITV when commercials are included. To fit its PBS 90-minute time slot in the United States (originally part of the Mystery! series – now called Masterpiece Mystery), the episodes, particularly in Series 1–3, were shortened by several minutes each.
Acorn Media contracted Cre-a-tv, Inc. to repackage the entire Foyle's War programme into two-part episodes to run within PBS' allotted airtime. The episodes were fed via satellite to the public television system by former PBS AFFILIATEKCET in Los Angeles, now an independent station, and public TV stations around the country started re-broadcasting the series in the fall of 2011. In this incarnation, each episode was aired in two parts, each in a one-hour time slot (usually separated by a week) – with each part running about 50 minutes. To fill in the time slot, the station aired excerpts of interviews of the series creator and some cast members (but notably, not Michael Kitchen), which were recorded starting in 2002.
After five series, the show was abruptly cancelled by Simon Shaps, who was ITV's director of programmes at the time. This forced Horowitz to throw out scripts set during most of 1943 and 1944, resulting in time jumps of nine months to a year between episodes (whereas previous series had gaps of a month at most). In April 2008, the presumed final episode, "All Clear", during which the end of the war is announced, was broadcast. On 9 April 2008, ITV announced that it was in talks with Horowitz and Greenlit Productions to revive the series, continuing Foyle's adventures beyond VE Day, and some media observers saw high viewing figures for the penultimate episode (28% audience share) on 13 April that year as strengthening the case for continuing. At the time the audience figures for the final episode were released (28% and an average of 7.3 million), ITV confirmed that it had entered and was continuing "early discussions" with Horowitz and Greenlit. These negotiations eventually led to the series being recommissioned for a further three episodes.
Series six commenced filming in February 2009 and premiered on UK TELEVISION 11 April 2010.
Series seven was filmed in Ireland and London from late August 2012 to December 2012 and was broadcast on UK television in March and April 2013.
It was announced on 20 November 2013 that a new series containing three two-hour episodes would be produced, and on 11 December 2014 it was announced that it would start broadcasting in the UK on 4 January 2015.
Detective Chief Superintendent (DCS) Foyle (Michael Kitchen) introduces himself with the phrase (or some variation thereof), "My name's Foyle; I'm a police officer." This is typical of the modesty, courtesy and precision of speech that he displays throughout the series. Foyle is a longstanding widower; he has one son, Andrew, to whom he is close, although their relationship is not demonstrative. Foyle's concern for his son's safety as a fighter pilot in the RAF is a theme. He lost his wife Rosalind in 1926; according to the tombstone, she was 30 years old.
Foyle is the son of a policeman. A World War I veteran who fought at Passchendaele, he once told his son that the three years he spent enlisted were the worst of his life and reluctantly admitted to having killed enemy soldiers. Foyle requests a transfer to the War Office several times in the first two series, but by the end of the third appears to have accepted that this will not happen and his detective work is just as important, in its own way, to the war effort. He argues that innocent victims of murder should not be forgotten just because there's a war on.
He has high moral standards and is scrupulously honest and highly sagacious. His speech is rather straightforward in manner, combined with a dry wit. He is portrayed as very open-minded for a man of his time: he expresses compassion upon learning that one of Andrew's friends is homosexual ("Among the Few") and distaste for prosecuting an attempted suicide ("Casualties of War"). (Homosexual activity and suicide were criminal offences at the time.) He is also reluctant to harass a left-wing activist purely for his political views ("War of Nerves"). He alone opposed the imposition of a temporary colour bar in Hastings, when tensions erupt amongst black and white US troops ("Killing Time"). Also consistent with the value he places on human life, he says that the accidental manslaughter of a pregnant woman took two lives ("Among the Few").
He is unfailingly loyal to his colleagues and expects the same from them. This is seen particularly in "The White Feather" when he reproaches Sgt. Milner for disloyalty and in "The Russian House", when he criticises Milner's disrespectful attitude towards him and Sam, despite the fact that they no longer work together. In turn, he demonstrates trust in his colleagues. He's quick to forgive Milner, and believes in Milner's innocence when he is suspected of his estranged wife's murder (in "Bleak Midwinter"). He also displays a fatherly concern for Sam (when not exasperated with her).
Foyle relaxes by trout-fishing, at which he is very skilled and which supplements his wartime rations. He also plays golf, though with less proficiency. He is often accompanied by his son or his uniformed counterpart, Hugh Reid. Cameo and guest characters are occasionally shown with him on these outings, enabling the exchange of information important to the plot.
Foyle notably retires or resigns more than once. He resigns at the end of the fourth series when his arrest of two murder suspects is thwarted due to bureaucratic interference, on the claim that their work is considered too important to the war effort. He returns in the sixth series when his successor is murdered and remains a DCS for the duration of the war. Following the war he retires from the force but chooses to return when he becomes involved in a complex case (investigated by Milner). At the end of the sixth series he apparently retires yet again, boarding a boat for America, possibly in pursuit ofunfinished business left for political reasons during the war. He returns to England at the beginning of the seventh series and is pressured into joining MI5, where his wartimeDRIVER Sam, now married to a Labour politician, joins him as a junior clerk.
Sergeant Milner (Anthony Howell) was a policeman before the war; he left to enlist in the army. He was involved in the British Norwegian Campaign and lost a leg at Trondheim. In episode one, he is seen recovering in hospital, highly despondent. Foyle encourages him to rejoin the police and Milner remains with the Hastings department for the duration of the war. He also appears to be the only ranked detective in the station besides Foyle. In "The White Feather," Milner finds himself "taken under the wing" of a charismatic politician, to the point that his judgment is clouded when the politician (who is notorious for his fascistic, anti-Semitic views) becomes a suspect in a murder investigation. When reproached by Foyle for disloyalty, Milner defensively states that the politician was the only person who did not treat him like a casualty of war. It turns out the politician was using Milner to smuggle important documents; upon discovering this, Milner offers his resignation, which Foyle does not accept. Following Foyle's resignation at the end of series 5, Milner is strongly considering a transfer due to dissatisfaction with his new superior, but decides against it once Foyle comes out of retirement to investigate the new DCS's murder.
Milner's relationship with his wife Jane becomes increasingly strained throughout the series; she never fully comes to terms with his injury. After a long separation, during which Milner has begun a relationship with Edith Ashford, Jane returns from her family in Wales ("Bleak Midwinter") to try and begin again with Milner but is murdered before this can come to pass. In a conversation just before Jane's death, Milner lies to Edith about his non-existent divorce from Jane. In the intended final episode "All Clear", Edith gives birth to a baby girl, to be called Clementine after Clementine Churchill the prime minister's wife.
At the beginning of Series 6, Milner has been promoted to Detective Inspector, with jurisdiction in the Brighton area. While investigating his first case, which happens to involve both Foyle and Sam, Milner is portrayed as being somewhat insecure in his new position and his attempts to hide this cause him to act in an abrupt, dismissive manner towards his old colleagues. This earns him an unusually sharp reproach from Foyle by the end of the case.
Sam (Honeysuckle Weeks) joins the Mechanised Transport Corps at the outbreak of the war. She is seconded to the police force as aDRIVER in the first episode, to relieve staff shortages within the police force and becomes Foyle'sDRIVER. She is enthusiastic about police work, offering unsolicited advice and help to Foyle and Milner – despite Foyle's initial instructions that she is not to discuss police work. As the series progresses, they come to rely on her assistance more and more, primarily when she happens to overhear bits of important conversation. In "Plan of Attack" we learn that she left police service soon after Foyle's resignation but in that episode she returns to be his driver on his rejoining the force.
Sam has a healthy appetite; her struggles with rationing are a constant theme, played for humour. She invites herself to eat with Foyle on a number of occasions and covets a turkey (kept for evidence) in "Bleak Midwinter".
Sam's father and several uncles are all Church of Englandvicars. Her father, the Rev. Iain Stewart (Stephen Moore), visits her in Hastings at one point ("Eagle Day"). He wants her to return home but comes to see that her work for the police is important (after discussions with Foyle and using his university training in art to help Milner solve a crime). Sam stays with her uncle, the Rev. Aubrey Stewart (Brian Poyser), at his vicarage in Levenham during the episode "The French Drop" and Foyle houses him during an ecumenical conference near Hastings in "Plan of Attack". In the same episode, she states that all her uncles are vicars.
Sam becomes friendly with Andrew Foyle and, after a while, becomes involved romantically with him. The two attempt to keep their attachment from Andrew's father, fearing his disapproval. Sam provides support to Andrew when he suffers from shell shock in "Enemy Fire". Their relationship ends when Andrew sends her a "Dear Jane letter" in "Invasion". She becomes fond of American Private Joe Farnetti (Jonah Lotan) but turns him down when he asks her to marry him, though the relationship appears to have continued until sometime after D Day, since she complains in "Broken Souls" that he "ran off with some French girl". Andrew returns in "All Clear" and asks Sam to forgive him and as they go out to celebrate VE day it seems that their romance will be re-established, though it is not. Series 6 begins in June 1945 and Sam has found a job as housekeeper to a wealthy artist. Sam seems to have lost her sense of purpose along with her uniform and position as Foyle's driver. Later in the sixth series, Sam has a new love interest, Adam Wainwright, played by Max Brown, a former Bletchley Parkcodebreaker who proposes to her in that series' final episode.
In 2004 Honeysuckle Weeks was nominated for the National Television Award – Most Popular Newcomer.
Squadron Leader Andrew Foyle DFC, RAF (Julian Ovenden) is Christopher Foyle's only child. At the outbreak of the war he was a student but joined the RAFin "The German Woman". Undergoing training as a fighter pilot in Scotland, he is later posted to the south coast, where he is involved in radar trials ("Eagle Day"). He sees action in the Battle of Britain. Eventually, in "Enemy Fire", suffering from combat fatigue stemming from almost-constant flying, coupled with grief at the loss of many friends, he briefly goes AWOL. His superior, Wg Cdr Turner (Martin Turner), is understanding and transfers him to a training unit.
Andrew is seen with a girlfriend in "Among the Few" but the relationship doesn't last. For a time, he becomes involved with Sam Stewart until he is posted toDebden as a training officer in "Enemy Fire" (his penultimate on-screen appearance). Soon after this posting he ends his relationship with Sam by letter (read in voice-over only in "Invasion") after entering into a short-lived relationship with another girl there. He is subsequently promoted to Squadron Leader and posted to Malta on active service, but after a serious bout of sinusitis ruins his eyesight he is demobbed and sent home. However, he remains an unseen character, referred to solely in dialogue and props, until his return to Hastings during the intended last episode ("All Clear"). Apologising to Sam for his poor treatment of her, he tries to resume their relationship – though initially only able to accept that they meet as "friends", she appears to be thawing towards him by the end of the episode, but in the following series he is replaced as her love interest by Adam Wainwright. In the seventh series, Andrew is mentioned as living in London, but he is not referred to when his father visits London or when he leaves for America. And in the eighth series, Andrew is mentioned as working in the City.
The series is notable for its claim to attention to historical detail, and the drama is frequently moved along by historical events of World War II. Creator Anthony Horowitz considered that to honour the veterans of the war it was important to get the details correct. As the series progressed, Horowitz became more interested in the "murder mystery" format than the portrayal of history and exploration of the Home Front. However, the Imperial War Museum is credited in an advisory capacity in some episodes.
All but the last series have been released on Blu-ray in Australia, which is officially region B. However, all discs are region free. A "complete" series box-set has been released as well, but this is missing the final series and therefore not truly complete.
In the UK, the first three series of Foyle's War were originally released as two separate 2-disc DVDs per series, containing two episodes each and released on the same day, and with episode titles instead of series numbers to keep them apart. This solution was originally also used for the DVD release of TV series 4. However, in March 2007, distributor Acorn Media (who handles the distribution both in the UK and the US), began re-releasing series 1–3 as four disc DVDs for the UK, as they had from the start in the US, and labelling them with series numbers.