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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: England jaycad's Avatar
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    i've just watched this drama on BBC4,what an absolutely terrifying disease! my only previous knowledge of this pandemic was a reference in 'upstairs downstairs'! i wonder how many soldiers survived the first world war only to succumb to spanish flu? 220,000 deaths in britain and 70 million worldwide

  2. #2
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='jaycad']i've just watched this drama on BBC4,what an absolutely terrifying disease! my only previous knowledge of this pandemic was a reference in 'upstairs downstairs'! i wonder how many soldiers survived the first world war only to succumb to spanish flu? 220,000 deaths in britain and 70 million worldwide
    It was good, but it could have done with being 2 or 3 times as long so that they could give more of an impression of its effect outside of Manchester - and the way that it was (or wasn't) handled.



    Steve

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: England jaycad's Avatar
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    name='Steve Crook']It was good, but it could have done with being 2 or 3 times as long so that they could give more of an impression of its effect outside of Manchester - and the way that it was (or wasn't) handled.



    Steve


    i did think it ended rather abruptly,it could have been a three part series i suppose.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain GoggleboxUK's Avatar
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    At first glance I misread the thread title, I thought it said Spanish Fly= The forgotten fallen.



    Ah, the irony!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: England faginsgirl's Avatar
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    I thought it was good too! I was really shocked by how many had died because of it, many had survived the war and then died of it not long after. How sad!



    xx

  6. #6
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='faginsgirl']I thought it was good too! I was really shocked by how many had died because of it, many had survived the war and then died of it not long after. How sad!



    xx


    More people around the world were killed by the flu in 1918/19 than were killed by either world war (separately, about the same number as died in both world wars).



    It was particularly nasty because it did hit people who were generally healthy, not just the young, the sick and the old like most flu outbreaks.



    BTW calling it "Spanish Flu" is a bit of a misnomer. It didn't start in Spain but because Spain was neutral during WWI (& WWII) they didn't have the reporting restrictions in place in other countries so they were the first place in Europe to report it. There were actually cases of this flu in the continental US and in other countries in Europe before the Spanish reported it - but those outbreaks were hushed up under wartime reporting restrictions.



    Steve

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: England mrs_emma_peel's Avatar
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    Extremely powerful and affecting, very well researched documentary-drama with Bill Paterson superb as the ultimately tragic medical hero Dr James Niven. I thought the devastatingly poignant real-life archive footage and stills were quite brilliantly edited, almost seamlessly, into the dramatized sequences.

    I agree, this excellent programme should have been longer … perhaps 90 minutes or in two parts.



    I was shocked to learn at the end credits that Doctor James Niven had committed suicide in 1925 …

    his body was found floating off the Isle of Man.





    the real Dr James Niven and Bill Paterson as Dr James Niven in Spanish Flu: The Forgotten Fallen



    Daily Telegraph review … Damian Thompson … 5th August 2009

    BBC Four drama about the Spanish Flu of 1918 was subtitled The Forgotten Fallen. An apt choice of words, because that’s what the victims did: fall. Healthy young people would topple over in the street, projectile vomiting. Much like any Saturday night, you might say, but this is no joking matter. The speed with which the symptoms gripped was terrifying. Of four evening bridge players, three could be dead by morning. And what a death, choking on what one doctor called “blood-tinged froth”.



    This was nothing like swine flu. The producers were lucky (if that’s the right word) in that the long-planned drama coincided with the current panic, lending it a topicality that won’t harm the ratings. But the parallels, thank God, are mostly confined to the way the viruses spread, through touch and crowds. Spanish Flu presented us with a disease so horrible that even those killer bugs in horror movies seem gentle in comparison.



    The drama stuck closely to the real story of Dr James Niven, Manchester’s Medical Officer for Health, who protected the city from the worst of the influenza by shutting down as much of it as he could: cinemas, pubs, tram services. And this just as everyone was celebrating the Armistice.



    Dr James Niven heroically managed to control the death toll in Manchester to approximately two and a half thousand … mainly young women and men … but a further thousand died in the third wave of Spanish Flu.



    Niven was played by Bill Paterson on top form: that is, with a buttoned-up anxiety that reflected the way the middle classes behaved in those days when faced with a catastrophe.



    The programme could have had great fun with stereotypes – spluttering city fathers tucking away their pocket watches as they made off for their Cheshire villas while the corpses of factory workers piled up in the streets. That’s the usual BBC approach to period dramas involving social class. Instead, we were confronted by real people who, even when they argued about how to contain the virus, did so intelligently.



    Indeed, Justin Hardy’s film deserves multiple awards for the avoidance of clich�. There was only one in the script: that old favourite, “You’d better come in, then,” delivered by the mother of Niven’s stricken assistant. No one said, “Try to get some sleep,” which is quite an achievement in a story about flu.

    No one coughed and said, “I’m all right, it’s just a cold,” before croaking. Also, the glamorous assistant, who by all the rules of TV drama should have pulled through, died in agony, her hair bleached overnight by the virus. I didn’t know that was physically possible, but apparently so.



    There was a suffocating drabness about the costumes and the sets that matched the 1918 newsreel footage shot in afflicted neighbourhoods. This was impressive, because so many period dramas fail to capture the essential quality of those old films of the working classes: so intense was the poverty that people look foreign, as if from the Third World. The make-up department gave the actors spectacularly pasty faces, which was no doubt accurate, though it did mean that the flu victims looked only marginally more poorly than the healthy folk – until their lips and ears turned blue, which was another symptom.



    One final detail underlined the exceptional quality of this programme. Instead of drenching Peter Harness’s script in a synthesised score, Hardy used extracts from classical masterpieces: Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition for bustling at the town hall and the sublime slow movement of Schubert’s Last Piano Sonata for the dying rooms. What an eerily clever choice: music written by a man facing death in his early 30s. That was the age group preferred by the Spanish flu, which turned the strong immune systems of healthy young people against them.

    As Niven observed: “It likes a fight.”



    Casualty count …

    UK dead … 228,000

    Global dead … at least 70 million



    Famous victims of Spanish Flu:

    Sir Hubert Parry (1st Baronet) … British composer (Jerusalem) … died 7th October 1918

    William Leefe Robinson VC … first British pilot to shoot down a German airship over Britain during WW1 … died 31st December 1918

    Harold Lockwood … American silent movie star … died 19th October 1918

    Sophie Halberstadt-Freud … daughter of Sigmund Freud … died 1920

    Max Weber … leading German Sociologist … died 14th June 1920



    Famous survivors of Spanish Flu:

    Walt Disney

    David Lloyd George

    Lillian Gish

    Mary Pickford

    Franklin D Roosevelt



    The Bubonic Plague or the Black Death of the 1300’s killed fewer people - but came at a time of far lower populations.



    The 1918 pandemic killed as many as 70 million, while the later outbreaks, while less serious, still claimed millions of victims. Coming so close to the Great War WW1 … (it is thought that the mass movement of soldiers at the end of the conflict helped spread Spanish Flu around the globe) … the 1918 pandemic was the worst epidemic in terms of numbers killed in recorded history.



    Sources: Daily Telegraph/BBC/Wikipedia

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: England faginsgirl's Avatar
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    Thanks for the extra info Steve and mrs Emma.



    xx

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