Last night Episode 2 of The War That Changed Us went to air on ABC TV.

It is the middle of 1916, the Great War has been raging for nearly two years. After the failed Gallipoli campaign, Nurse Kit McNaughton is evacuated from the Dardanelles with the defeated troops and sent to work in a hospital in Northern France. At Fromelles, General Pompey Elliott prepares to send his men into battle for the first time on the Western Front. At home peace activist Vida Goldstein is attacked from all sides as she leads the anti-war movement, and anti-war campaigner Tom Barker is jailed for publishing a seditious cartoon jeopardizing recruitment of soldiers. Meanwhile, on the other side of the political divide, conservative crusader Eva Hughes does her best to rally support for the war in defence of King and Empire.

The Australian finally got around to reviewing the series and with great praise from Graeme Blundell, so we can’t complain! He gave it Pick of the Day with ‘simply a stunning achievement’ and ‘daringly transcends the traditional structure of historical documentaries’.

We had been working on a WW1 anniversary series for the international market for sometime when the ABC put out a tender.  So we shifted our focus to the Australian experience and commenced work on a new treatment. The initial proposal for the series, and story-telling approach was developed by our research team.

It started with Executive Producer Claire Jager who brought to the table historian Clare Wright, who brought on board the character of nurse Kit McNaughton, featured in the book fellow historian Janet Butler was working on at the time. But we needed more than one character to tell the story of the Australian experience.  Our team which included Greg Colgan, Daniella Ortega, Diana Pepper, Clare Wright and the series director Don Featherstone, researched and built an ensemble cast of characters to represent the diverse landscape of pro and anti-war views. The directorial team of Don, and drama director James Bogle, then worked with an amazing production crew to shoot the sequences, including at many locations throughout Perth for most of the drama.

We’ll tell you about those locations in another post soon.  You’ll be surprised at what doubled for the Gallipoli landing.