Monocled Mutineer revisited

Honorary Fellow Paul McGann returned to the University for a special public event, presented by the School of Humanities and Social Science and as part of the University’s Merseyside at War project, to commemorate the acclaimed BBC drama in which he starred, the Monocled Mutineer.

Made by the BBC and shown in 1986 as part of their new season of drama, the series regularly attracted around 10 million viewers but caused some controversy at the time with newspapers claiming it as an example of left wing bias at the BBC.

The series, written by Alan Bleasdale, was an adaptation of ‘The Monocle Mutineer’ a book written by William Allison and John Fairley, which depicted the life of Percy Toplis, who was a deserter from the British Army. The book claimed that Toplis was present at a mutiny at the camp at Etaples and has eyewitness accounts placing him there. However, it has never been proved that Toplis was actually in France. His regiment was on its way to India at that time.

Not long after the book was published questions about the Etaples mutiny were asked in Parliament, which led to the revelation that records had been destroyed.
An audience of over 200 watched an excerpt from the drama and then enjoyed a discussion of the programme with Paul and Professor Gary Sheffield, who is a Professor of War Studies at the University of Wolverhampton.

LJMU’s Professor Frank McDonough, who chaired the evening, asked Paul about the controversy to which he replied that the Monocled Mutineer was a drama based around a story, but it was not a true life documentary - he compared it to present day dramas such as Wolf Hall which take artistic licence within historical context.

Paul launched the Merseyside at War project last year and continues to play an active role in its development.

For more information about the Merseyside at War project visit the website

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