The Last Post takes place in 1965 in Aden, Yemen, one of the oldest colonies in the British Empire.
It’s a place where East meets West and with an oil refinery, it’s advertisted as a place of prosperity. In addition, the Queen calls it “A perfect example of colonial rule”, and out there, it’s so hot that the Royal Military Police officers can cook eggs on the bonnet of their trucks. In addition, they have to make it a home with their families and their first task is to say goodbye to the outgoing Captain who everyone loved, Nick Page (Joseph Kennedy).
New man Joe Martin (Jeremy Neumark Jones) has a tough row to hoe when it comes to filling that guy’s shoes, while Lt. Ed Laithwaite (Stephen Campbell Moore, who’s getting a good run on TV at the moment, first being in last week’s The Child In Time, with Benedict Cumberbatch, and now this) has his nose put out of joint because he didn’t get the job. Still, he’s busy with a sideline importing arms into Aden, and they’re all kept busy with particularly baddies who want the British out of the country, leading to a situation when a tragedy befells the men, including one disappearing.
For the spouses of the officers, there’s little for them to do, meaning Alison (Jessica Raine, above) has nothing better to do all day than drink and throw herself at men other than her husband.
Although I never watched The Jewel in the Crown as a child, based on the clips I saw, this definitely has a similar feel to that, and makes Sunday night the right time to show it. However, for longer than I’d like, it’s very undemanding TV, it’s very slow moving, and feels rather drawn out. That’s pretty much also how I felt about clips of the aforementioned ITV drama… and that was a huge hit, so it could be that they’re right and I’m wrong and that this programme isn’t really aimed at myself. In fact, it does seem more aimed at my parents’ generation.
That said, instead of six episodes, I think four would’ve been better to tighten things up. This is based on the fact that of the two first episodes I’ve seen, the undemanding fluff is interspersed with occasional high drama, but it’s not enough to draw me in. It feels like they’re trying to cram too much superfluous content in there rather than concentrate on one avenue, and as a result, the episodes feel very uneven.
There is a reasonable score from time to time, however.
At the time of posting this review, the first episode has just aired, and as the ‘next time’ segment shows, in episode 2, they have journalist Martha Franklin (Mindhorn‘s Essie Davis) follow them on the job, while they’re out and about.
The Last Post continues next Sunday on BBC1 at 9pm and isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD. If you missed it, you can watch it on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after transmission.
Episode 1 Score: 5/10
Director: Jonny Campbell
Producers: Mark Pybus, Margery Bone and Jonny Campbell
Writer: Peter Moffat
Honor Martin: Jessie Buckley
Lieutenant Ed Laithwaite: Stephen Campbell Moore
Mary Markham: Amanda Drew
Major Harry Markham: Ben Miles
Captain Joe Martin: Jeremy Neumark Jones
Alison Laithwaite: Jessica Raine
Yusra Saeed: Ouidad Elma
Lance Corporal Tony Armstrong: Tom Glynn-Carney
Lance Corporal Paul Stoneham: Louis Greatorex
Captain Nick Page: Joseph Kennedy
Informant: Kal Naga
Sergeant Alex Baxter: Chris Reilly
Corporal Israel Orchover: Kevin Sutton
Corporal Chris Dimarco: Paul Tinto
George Markham: Toby Woolf
Harvey Tilbrook: Richard Dillane
Arab Prisoner: Stefan Erasmus
Kadir Hakim: Aymen Hamdouchi
NLF Insurgent: Clayton Everston
Martha Franklin: Essie Davis
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.