BBC keen to reshow Paul McGann’s The Monocled Mutineer

The BBC's head of First World War programming wants to show the well-loved drama to mark the 100th anniversary of the conflict - but is currently been stymied by rights issues

The BBC has unveiled a mouthwatering line-up of 2,500 hours of programming for its First World War anniversary season. Running between 2014 and 2018, one of the treats is a reshowing of the acclaimed 1964 documentary The Great War.


But one classic show whose fate hangs in the balance is the well-loved 1986 Paul McGann drama about the 1917 Etaples Mutiny, The Monocled Mutineer.

“I want to show it but there are rights issues so we haven’t got it yet,” the BBC’s First World War anniversary supremo Adrian Van Klaveren told It is understood that the cost of paying the large cast and crew, who were under lucrative talent agreements at the time, is proving the prohibitive factor.

Written by Alan Bleasdale, the four-part Monocled Mutineer attracted audiences of more than ten million but was accused of exemplifying the BBC’s left-wing bias by some critics at the time.

An adaptation of the 1978 book of the same name by William Allison and John Fairley, it told the story of Percy Toplis, played by Doctor Who star McGann, who supposedly led a British Army mutiny in Northern France at the height of the First World War.


However, while the drama was praised in many quarters, some aspects of the series were criticised over their supposed factual inaccuracy and recent research has suggested the Toplis was nowhere near Etaples during the time of the supposed mutiny.