Say “Wargames” to people of a certain vintage and you’ll almost certainly get a misty-eyed look involving Ally Sheedy, ‘tic tac toe’ and defcons. However, war gaming is a proper business and, done right, it’s also makes for pretty decent drama. Recently we had War Book, a limited release British film of quite compelling intensity and, repeated on Radio 4 over the past few weeks but recorded in 2012, we’ve just had the first few blasts of Red and Blue.
The strength of these episodes is in the many and varied moments of conflict. Whether that’s full on engagement (exercise but with real bullets) or the exchange about whether a Northern Irish Protestant should really know how it feels to be oppressed because, in the words of Colonel Bradley Shoreham who designs the games, “You all sing rebel songs.” The smartest, and in many ways most chilling, of the three repeated so far was Terror in which, over brandy, two men discuss in very straightforward ways just how a simple, direct attack could do the most damage. That will give me more sleepless nights than any Man in Black episode.
Having missed all these first time round it’s been a real pleasure to listen to them now – and with Radio 4 repeating Series Two in a couple of months it’ll be nice to meet Shoreham again soon. Even if no one will end an episode by going, “Strange game, the only winning move is not to play.”