The Last Post

In the last days of British rule, the heat is on

The end of empire has proved to be a rich mine for dramatists, and after White Mischief and The Jewel in the Crown, you might think you know what you’ll be getting in this genre:Ben-Felsenburg-colour-176 restless natives, booze-soaked colonial types and always in the background the loudly ticking clock of history.

Set in Aden in 1965, as Britain was preparing to say farewell to the last remnants of its imperial past, The Last Post (Sunday, BBC1, 9pm) appears to fulfil expectations. This is the era of the Aden Emergency, and amid the sweltering heat weapons are being smuggled by the locals and a violent revolt is planned.

Back on the British military police base, in the married officers’ quarters, Lieutenant Ed Laithwaite’s wife Alison (Jessica Raine) is determinedly drunk on large tumblers of spirits clunking with ice from breakfast on, and brazenly makes her husband a cuckold as she conducts an affair with his commanding officer. But Laithwaite (Stephen Campbell Moore) is an idiosyncratically philosophical individual, and perhaps that’s why he’s passed up for promotion when the captain leaves, to be replaced by the dashing young Captain Martin and his new bride Honor.

Peter Moffat’s thoughtful script is full of surprises and ensures expectations are pleasingly dashed as we glimpse a little-known chapter of history light years removed from London’s Swinging Sixties.


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