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BBC Radio 4 plans WWI drama to be broadcast over four years

BBC Radio 4 is marking the 100th anniversary of the first worldwar with a drama to be broadcast over the timespan of the original conflict – four years.

The drama, which has the working title Tommies and is believed to be the UK’s biggest ever one-off radio drama commission, will tell the story of signals corps soldiers’ experiences during the war, in real time.

Tommies – the nickname for British soldiers – is still in the planning stages but is expected to begin broadcasting around the summer of 2014 and follow the group as they prepare for the war, which broke out on July 1914.

The as yet uncast drama will follow the trajectory of the conflict in real time and finish broadcasting in the autumn on 2018, the 100th anniversary of the end of the conflict, which claimed about 900,000 British lives.

Already two years of the drama have been sketched out. Current plans take the unit up to 1915 and the Battle of Loos, the British offensive which marked the first major example of trench warfare in the conflict and the first time the British used poison gas on the enemy. This will be broadcast in 2015.