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Tom Grattan’s War

1 9 6 8 – 1 9 7 0 (UK)
26 x 30 minute episodes

From the golden age of children’s television drama, Tom Grattan’s War was a period piece, set at the time of the First World War and told the tale of a 16-year-old London lad (Michael Howe) who is too young to help his country in the far off fields of Flanders, so is therefore set to work on a farm to help with the nation’s food production.

While Tom’s father is fighting in Europe his mother is helping the war effort by working in a London munitions factory. For his part, Tom is sent on a long journey to stay with relatives in rural Yorkshire for the duration of the war

Once at the Kirkby’s moorland farm, he is set to work in the fields, making his own quiet contribution to the war effort.


But Tom is introduced to much more than unfamiliar country ways. Along with the Kirkby’s daughter, Julie (Sally Adcock), he encounters espionage, kidnapping, robbery and sabotage, and also faces more complex dilemmas – not least when German prisoners of war working at the nearby quarry become the target for angry attacks by local people who have lost loved ones at the front.

The narrator (Richard Warner) appeared at the start of each episode and provided an occasional voice-over during each story.

Whilst the war is fought on the remote battlefields of Europe, its consequences are all too real for Tom and his new friends.

Dramatic and often spectacular storylines combined with themes of duty and moral conflict in this acclaimed adventure series from Yorkshire Television.

Two bombers planned to blow up a troop train; another tried to attack the prison quarry in retaliation for the death of his son on the battlefield. Tom had to rescue a rich young Lord kidnapped by two opportunistic Tinkers, and he and Julie themselves had to be sprung from a castle dungeon by their handyman friend Stan (George Malpas) at the controls of an early fighter plane.

The series did much to improve ITV’s reputation for children’s programmes but executive producer Tony Essex actually planned it without any idea of the storyline.

He had decided on the main character – a London boy in Yorkshire in the winter of 1915 – but there was no synopsis or script. Essex started off in Yorkshire, scouting locations – an old quarry, a deserted railway station – and then decided what sort of things might happen in those places, trying to imagine what might excite children in those locations.

The show aired on Saturdays at 5:20 PM between August 1968 and 1970.

The production team of the second series of Tom Grattan’s War went on to make the horse sanctuary drama Follyfoot, which repeated many of the essential features of its predecessor; a rural setting, shot entirely on film and on location and featuring young adult, rather than child, lead characters.

Tom Grattan
Michael Howe
Julie Kirkby
Sally Adcock
Mrs Kirkby 

Connie Merigold
Stan Hobbs
George Malpas

Richard Warner


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