Production Crew Interviews - October 29, 2003; Publicity Release.
Anthony Horowitz - Creator and Writer
Jill Green and Simon Passmore - Producers
Martyn John - Production Designer
Director's and Producer's Credits
Anthony Horowitz believes the way Foyle's War weaves real historical events into murder-mysteries is at the heart of its success.
"I call the murder-mysteries the engine of the series and they exist alongside World War Two events. We counter a fine balance and in every story there is an interaction between real events and what Foyle and Milner are working on. The war feeds the crime on the home front.
"When I start work on the series, I look at the true stories and draw up a potential list of events and details, such as an ice cream man, whose van had been requisitioned to carry blood. I knew I would have to have that story.
"The Funk Hole, in the new series, is another example. I don't know how many people would know that these places actually existed for a wealthy sect of people to escape the war. For the writer, they are a gift, because they house a shabby bunch of characters, from a rich society."
A few elements are invented, for the sake of dramatic impact.
"It would be very unlikely that a detective like Foyle would have a female driver, but we wanted Foyle to have a young girl in his world, so we invented Sam. The chemistry of their relationship is vital to the script. But on the whole, the extraordinary stories are there and it would be insane for me to invent them.
"I was too young for the war, but when you go on set and see the Spitfires roaring off into the sky it leaves a huge impression on you of the adrenaline and heroism that existed."
Anthony works closely with Michael Kitchen and the other main actors to develop their characters.
"Michael has helped enormously in creating the character of Foyle - he is the only actor I've ever met who cuts down his lines. He replaces words with a look and plays Foyle with a quiet authority. It's not always easy because he is very honest about the scripts, but it always works out.
"Foyle is a very real character. He's a man trapped by his class, his wife has died and he has a son serving in the RAF. He's professional and private. It's breathtaking to watch Michael play him."
Anthony has a strong track record in creating some of the best drama on British TV and has been dubbed a 'one man crime wave'. His past achievements include Midsomer Murders, Murder In Mind and Poirot. But he considers Foyle's War is his best work so far.
"Foyle's War scripts are very complicated and deal with so many different strata. There is the murder - why did they do it - dating each episode in history, including a moral question in each film and lots of red herrings. It's pretty difficult to write. But as I live with the producer I can't say no!
"Winning the Lew Grade Award at BAFTA was a wonderful affirmation of the show. As the winner was chosen by viewers and the readers of Radio Times, it was such a boost to everyone and a real high point in my career.
"In the new series we have submarines, German spies, Americans, lots of action and actors of star quality. I think it's two hours of perfect television - and if it's the last piece of television I ever write, then it's been a great career."
Anthony is now finalising scripts for the third series of Foyle's War, which begins filming in January.
Jill Green is extremely proud of the success of Foyle's War.
"I'm thrilled with the way people have taken the series to their hearts. It's almost as if it has always been around. Winning the Lew Grade Award at the BAFTAs was a real surprise, though. We were up against huge competition and to have made that impact as a new show is extraordinary. But it's very well deserved for all the real craftsmanship that has gone into the series.
Jill, the head of Greenlit Productions, believes Foyle's War appeals on different levels.
"There's a nostalgic audience who have people in their families who experienced life in the Second World War and I think there is also the appeal of Michael Kitchen in a very classy role. It remains accessible in its storytelling and has something different to say about those times. Our themes are familiar but every episode comes in at a different angle, with a different insight or moral dilemma."
After the runaway success of the first series - with 10.3 million viewers for the final episode - Jill was determined not to rest on her laurels.
"We are all committed to making Foyle's War at the highest level and I think this year we have risen even higher in our production values. At Greenlit we make handcrafted shows and nothing is overlooked. Our departmental heads on the crew more usually work on feature films and everyone is at the top in their field.
Simon Passmore describes the new series :
"It is set in September and October of 1940. All four films are very different. The first, Fifty Ships, is very relevant to now, dealing with America's friendship with the UK and how important that alliance is in wartime. When you think what we have all just been through it's quite unnerving.
"The second film, Among The Few, is about the younger characters - the pilots and their romantic entanglements. In War Games, the third film, Alan Howard is a highlight for us. He's sensational in a difficult role. The story is all about trading with the enemy, which is interesting, because those corporations are still with us now. We end the series with The Funk Hole, a mystery with an intriguing twist."
As well as the investigations, there are developments in the relationships between the series' main characters.
"A lot more trust has grown between Foyle and Sam to the extent that he sends her undercover, while Milner is also brought to the forefront of investigations. There's also a suggestion of romance between Sam and Foyle's son Andrew. Andrew's relationship with Foyle shows how things haven't changed. He behaves like a teenager and it mirrors how teenagers clash with their fathers now.
"We're delighted with the performances. In Fifty Ships, Michael has a range of emotions across the film, from very authoritative and aggressive to funny and sad. He's completely compelling.
"We have some wonderful guest stars and it's important for us that even the minor parts are performed by good actors. I'm particularly proud of the young people coming through. Rosamund Pike was in the first ever film and Mark Umbers and Emily Blunt who guest star in the new series are now much in demand."
Adds Jill "We're also grateful for Terry Charman, our expert at the Imperial War Museum. The authenticity is so
important to us and having the Imperial War Museum as our kitemark is invaluable." Jill is now working with her husband, series creator Anthony Horowitz, on the third series of Foyle's War, which begins filming in January. Greenlit also has four feature films and a further eight television dramas in development.
A mixture of real Spitfires and cardboard cut-outs, and pretty cottages that are actually fašades are some of the 'magic' used by Martyn John to create the England of the Second World War in 21st century towns and countryside.
Martyn, production designer on Foyle's War, uses a combination of modern trickery and authentic period props to take viewers on a journey back in time.
"We have to cover up yellow lines and TV aerials everywhere we go. We replace yellow lines with gravel and we carry a stock of things around with us to cover up things like burglar alarms and satellite dishes. It takes a lot of money to make a street look right, down to the curtains hanging in the windows, but the crew perform wonders.
"The biggest expense are cars, trains and planes, and it's hard to find them too. There is only one Spitfire available and we used one of the four remaining Dakotas. The Spitfire is charged by the hour so we had eight cut-outs standing on the runway. They are two-dimensional and about 30 feet long, but when you shoot them from a distance you can get away with murder!
"I have a good contact who has cars from the 30s and 40s, as well as armoured vehicles, but using them is a big project to undertake. They need to be put on a low loader and the vehicle needs lots of care and someone who can drive it and knows what to do if it stalls or goes wrong.
"The good thing about television is that you can get away with a lot. Through a camera, everything looks better quality and more glamorous. There is a bombed out cottage in episode one, which we built using real roof tiles. I have a great team of painters who can match things and make them look believable. The further you get away, the more make believe you can be. But if you walk along the row of real houses, then walk behind you'll see it's just a fašade."
Martyn uses colour to create an authentic period feel.
"Colour is important. In those days, everything was grey and brown and a lot of houses were not particularly clean, because of the working coal fires. So we have to distress some of our locations. They also didn't have the brilliant white or yellow that we have now. What has helped recently is the huge resurgence in muted natural colours from the 40s, so I can get hold of the neutral pigments more easily.
"In a cellar which is supposed to house Nazi sympathisers, I painted the walls dark red. With the help of lighting, you felt there was something quite nasty going on. We also had some paperwork that was invented by our graphic designer. It may not even be seen, but I like taking things as far as I can."
Modern stores also have their place. "I buy blinds and curtains from Ikea and a lot of props from Habitat. Although these are both contemporary stores, they have a lot of products inspired by the 30s and 40s."
Giving the right look to Foyle's War is no straightforward task.
"We make each film like a feature in terms of research, dressing and design, but it's only a television budget so we are stretched financially and creatively. But we always rise to the challenge!"
Greenlit Productions was set up in 1998 by Jill Green, former managing director of Red Rooster. A leading, creative independent production company, Greenlit specialises in high quality 'event' drama, from TV films and mini-series to larger scale commercial feature films.
Greenlit's first production was the psychological thriller Trust, starring Caroline Goodall, Mark Strong and Nathaniel Parker which was co-produced with Red Rooster and directed by David Drury for ITV1. It played to audiences of nine million, achieved huge critical acclaim, and was nominated for the RTS Best Drama Serial award.
The Swap, a holiday house-swapping thriller for ITV1 starring Jemma Redgrave and Jonathan Cake, reunited the producer-director team of Green and David Drury and marked Greenlit's first solo production with great success, holding an audience of over 8.5 million over two nights.
Menace, Greenlit's urban thriller for Five, was transmitted in September 2002 to critical acclaim, achieving an audience
share of 8%. Foyle's War is the third ITV production for Greenlit, first transmitted in Autumn 2002 in the UK and in Winter 2003 on PBS Masterpiece Theatre in the USA. The current series will be transmitted on WGBH's 'Mystery' slot in summer 2004.
Greenlit has a three-project development deal with Sony Pictures Television and two new projects, AC Squad and Magick, are being discussed with UK and international broadcasters. Other television development includes Greed and The Spider and The Fly with director David Drury.
In film, Greenlit alongside David Foster Productions and Catherine Zeta-Jones' company Milkwood Films is developing Trust, to star Catherine Zeta Jones, as a major US based film for Warner Brothers. The project is being adapted by Will Rokos from the Greenlit television drama.
The feature A Very Private Gentleman is currently being adapted by Laura Harrington from the novel by Martin Booth and is being co-developed with producer Ann Wingate and New York based THIS IS THAT for Focus Features.
Greenlit is also developing a small slate of lower-budget features for both domestic and international partners including an adaptation of the novel Going Out by Scarlett Thomas.
Greenwish, a new offshoot company formed alongside producers Mark Shivas and Ann Wingate, recently gained the rights to Sally Vickers' best selling novel Miss Garnet's Angel, which is being co-developed with BBC Films. The novel is being adapted by the award-winning screenwriter Laura Jones.
Jeremy Silberston directed the pilot of Foyle's War and two further episodes in the first series. He also directed the original Midsomer Murders and many subsequent films in this perennially popular series. Jeremy's other credits include three seasons of the long-running House of Elliott for the BBC as well as episodes of Casualty, Where The Heart Is and The Bill.
Giles Foster has directed many films for television and the cinema including Bertie and Elizabeth, The Prince And The Pauper, Coming Home, Relative Strangers, The Rector's Wife, Silas Marner, Hotel Du Lac and Northanger Abbey. He also directed several of Alan Bennett's TV monologues.
Simon Passmore produced the first series of Foyle's War with Jill Green. His other producing credits include Pretending To Be Judith, Forgive and Forget, An Evil Streak and Imogen's Face for ITV as well as single films and the serial A Sense Of Guilt for the BBC.
Jill Green worked for Red Rooster Film and Television between 1991-1998, initially as Head of Children's and Family Entertainment, then as Deputy Managing Director before finally being promoted to Managing Director. She produced kids' series The Tics and Samson Superslug, for ITV1, as well as the BBC family serial Smokescreen and the animated series Monty The Dog. Her prime time drama credits include the Channel Five's launch night drama Beyond Fear, The Alchemists and Deadly Summer. Jill Green founded Greenlit Productions in 1998.