Game of War



Angela Rippon


Arthur Harman

Paddy Griffith

Iain Dickie (analyst)


Action Time for Channel 4, 3 to 17 August 1997 (3 episodes)



What were they thinking? Miniature figurine war gaming with the attractive pieces and sensibly designed combat resolution rules taken out, to be replaced by abstract plastic coloured blobs and a system wherever whoever rolled higher on a single die did better.

File:Gameofwar graphic.jpgCannon to the left of them, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the valley of death with you...

Two very boring-looking war games experts rolled the dice and adjudicated occasional additions of one or two to a roll as the situation dictated. Angela Rippon took it all very seriously as did the competitors, real-life higher-ups in the British armed forces.

It all comes down to values

Gorgeous production values: mock news bulletins, individual sets where the two sides would consider their plans, lots and lots of graphics detailing the "what-if"s as the forces considered their plans, gratuitous war sound effects. The main map, where we could see what was actually happening to both sides, was situated in the main set, which seemed to have a left-over prop from Close Encounters of the Third Kind suspended above it.

That "UFO thingy" above the central table.

Remarkably atmospheric, but the atmosphere created was of a rather ill-thought-out war game, not of a war. Oddly enough, this led to very low ratings and nothing ever came of the short pilot series of three shows.

Key moments

"I rolled a 6 and a 4, then he rolled a 2 and a 3, then I rolled a 1 and a 6, then he rolled a 2 and a 3 again. You know what this means? The 14th cavalry of reinforcements have been held up unaccountably somewhere around Constantinople, and you're shagged, pal."


The three episodes were based on the battles of Balaklava, Naseby and Waterloo, in that order.


Devised by David Stocker and Kevin Halloran.


File:Gameofwar model.jpgThe site layout for Glastonbury 1998
File:Gameofwar set.jpgNo nonsense set design. Don't you know there's a war on?
File:Gameofwar table.jpgRed light spells boredom
File:Gameofwar dice.jpgLook at the prettily coloured dice! This is about as interesting as Game of War gets.
File:Gameofwar symbols.jpgBlue things.
File:Gameofwar discussion.jpgI know how to win this war. Let's invent radar.
File:Gameofwar ajudicator.jpgThe adjudicator, pointing out a breach of the Geneva convention
Host, Angela Rippon. In the background can be see the scale model battlefield, complete with red and blue game pieces.
Angela Rippon with two military expert contestants.


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