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Foyle's War is a British detective drama created by screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz, and commissioned by ITV after the long-running series Inspector Morse came to an end in 2000. It has aired on ITV from 2001 and was originally axed in 2007 by director of television Simon Shaps, but thanks to a number of complaints and a large public demand, ITV decided to revive the series after its sixth series proved to be a ratings success in 2008. Series 7 commenced filming in February 2009, with all regular cast members returning.


The programme is set during the Second World War in Hastingsmarker, Englandmarker, where Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) attempts to catch criminals who are taking advantage of the confusion the war has created. He is assisted by his driver Samantha "Sam" Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks) and Detective Sergeant Paul Milner (Anthony Howell).

Foyle, a widower, is quiet, methodical, and very observant and is frequently underestimated by his foes. Many of his cases concern profiteering, the black market, and murder. Foyle often comes up against high-ranking officials in the British military or intelligence services who would prefer that he mind his own business, but he is tenacious in seeking justice.

The stories are largely self-contained. There are some running strands, mainly involving the career of Foyle's son Andrew (played by Julian Ovenden), a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force, or Foyle's continuing relationships with cameo characters.

Each episode runs for about 95 to 100 minutes, filling a two-hour slot on ITV when commercials are included. In order to fit PBS's 90 minute time-slot in the United Statesmarker, episodes, particularly in series 1 to 3, were edited by several minutes each.

In a newspaper article and in his interview that accompanies the first season DVD set Anthony Horowitz was asked why he named the main character Christopher Foyle. He explained that he was seeking a name that evoked the early 1940s and thought of Foyles Bookshopmarker in London's Charing Cross Roadmarker, once known for its archaic practices and its owner Christina Foyle. Christopher was the nearest male name to Christina, but from 1999 following the death of Christina Foyle, control passed to her nephew Christopher Foyle who was given a small walk-on cameo part in the episode "Bad Blood".

After six series the show was originally cancelled because it was becoming too expensive. In April 2008, the presumed final episode, "All Clear", was aired. However, on 9 April 2008, ITV announced that it was in talks with Horowitz and Greenlit Productions to revive the series, continuing Foyle's adventures into peacetime, and some media observers saw high viewing figures for the penultimate episode (28% audience share) on April 13 that year as strengthening the case for a continuation. At the time the audience figures for the final episode were released (28% and an average of 7.3 million), ITV confirmed that it had entered and was continuing "early discussions" with Horowitz and Greenlit. These negotiations eventually led to the series being recommissioned for further episodes. Anthony Horowitz also said on the ITV3 documentary series 'Drama Trails', that he is still not sure about the title of the new series. In the mean time, Acorn Media UK own the rights to distribute the programme on DVD.


Series Aired Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4 Year set Writer(s)
Series One 2002 "The German Woman" "The White Feather" "A Lesson in Murder" "Eagle Day" May–August 1940 Anthony Horowitz (All)
Series Two 2003 "Fifty Ships" "Among the Few" "War Games" "The Funk Hole" September–October 1940 Anthony Horowitz & Matthew Hall (1), Anthony Horowitz & Michael Russell (3), Anthony Horowitz (2 & 4)
Series Three 2004 "The French Drop" "Enemy Fire" "They Fought in the Fields" "War of Nerves" February–June 1941 Anthony Horowitz (1, 2 & 4), Rob Heyland (3)
Series Four 2006 "Invasion" "Bad Blood" April–August 1942 Anthony Horowitz (All)
Series Five 2007 "Bleak Midwinter" "Casualties of War" December 1942–March 1943 Anthony Horowitz (All)
Series Six 2008 "Plan of Attack" "Broken Souls" "All Clear" April 1944–May 1945 Anthony Horowitz (1 & 3), Michael Chaplin (2)
Series Seven 2010 "The Russian House" "Killing Time" "The Hide" June-August 1945

Note that in the US airings on PBS series four and five are combined and shown as series four and series six is aired as series five.

Main characters

Regular and recurring characters in Foyle's War
Name Rank or role Episodes Portrayed by
Christopher Foyle Detective Chief Superintendent all Michael Kitchen
Paul Milner Detective Sergeant all Anthony Howell
Samantha Stewart Police driver, MTC all Honeysuckle Weeks
Andrew Foyle DCS Foyle's son, RAF officer 1, 4, 6, 8, 10, 19 Julian Ovenden
Hugh Reid Uniformed Superintendent 2, 3, 4 Michael Simkins
Jane Milner DS Milner's wife (later murdered) 2, 3, 5, 15 Mali Harries
Fisher Police Constable 2, 4 Fergus Webster
Eric Rivers Police Sergeant 5, 7, 9, 10, 12 Geoffrey Freshwater
Turner Wing Commander (Andrew's superior) 6, 10 Martin Turner
Hilda Pearce Special Operations Executive 7, 9, 19 Ellie Haddington
Alistair Rose Assistant Commissioner 8, 12 Corin Redgrave
Perkins ARP Warden 12, 15, 16 Tony Turner
Ian Brooke Police Sergeant 13, 15, 16 17, 18, 19 Jay Simpson
Joe Farnetti Private, U.S. Army; Sam's boyfriend 13, 14 Jonah Lotan
Edith Ashford Milner's girlfriend, later his second wife 14, 15, 19 Caroline Martin /
Polly Maberly
Aubrey Stewart Samantha's uncle 9, 17 Brian Poyser
John Kiefer Farinetti's commanding officer and Foyle's friend 13, 19 Jay Benedict

Christopher Foyle

Foyle (Michael Kitchen) consistently introduces himself with the phrase, "My name's Foyle; I'm a police officer." This is typical of the modesty, courtesy and precision of speech that he displays throughout the series. Foyle is a widower of long standing; he has one son, Andrew, with whom he is close, although their relationship is not demonstrative. Foyle's concern for his son's safety as a fighter pilot is an ongoing theme.

A veteran of World War I, Foyle is eager to be helping the war effort once again. He told his son that the three years he spent in the war since enlisting were the worst in his life, and reluctantly admitted that he had to kill. He requests a transfer to the War Departmentmarker several times in the first two series of the show but, by the end of the third series, he appears to have accepted that this will not happen and that his detective work is just as important, in its own way, to the war effort. He argues that innocent victims of murder should not be forgotten just because there's a terribly costly war on.

He has high moral standards, being scrupulously honest. Some viewers may feel that he is pro-life, in that he stated that the murder of a pregnant woman took two lives, however this is speculative in that the position is never advanced in the series. In the same episode (Among the Few), he worked out that one of his son's friends was homosexual, and was compassionate to him.

He is loyal and expects loyalty from his colleagues. This is seen particularly in "The White Feather" when he reproaches Sgt Milner for perceived disloyalty. In turn, he demonstrates trust in his colleagues. He's quick to forgive Milner, and later believes in Milner's innocence when he is suspected of involvement in his wife's murder (in "Bleak Midwinter"). He also displays a fatherly concern for Sam.

Foyle relaxes by playing golf (not too well) or trout-fishing (very skilled), which also supplements his wartime rations. He is often accompanied by his son or his uniformed counterpart, Hugh Reid. Cameo and guest characters are occasionally shown with him on these outings, enabling the exchange of information important to the plot.

Paul Milner

A policeman before the war, Milner (Anthony Howell) left to enlist in the army. He was involved in the British Norwegian Campaign and lost a leg in Trondheimmarker. In episode one, he is seen recovering in hospital. Foyle encourages him to rejoin the police. Milner's relationship with his wife Jane is returned to throughout the series; she does not seem to have come to terms with his injury. After a long separation, during which Milner has begun a relationship with Edith Ashford, Jane returns from her family in Wales ("Bleak Midwinter") to attempt to begin again with Milner, but she is murdered before this can come to pass. In a conversation just before Jane's death, Milner tells Edith that he has no family. In the intended final episode "All Clear", Edith gives birth to a baby girl, to be called Clementine after the prime minister's wife.

Samantha Stewart

Joining the Mechanised Transport Corps at the outbreak of the war, Sam (played by Honeysuckle Weeks) is seconded to the police force as a driver in the first episode to relieve staff shortages within the police force, and becomes Foyle's driver. She is very enthusiastic about police work, offering unsolicited advice and help to Foyle and Milner—despite Foyle's initial instructions that she was not to discuss police work. As the series progresses, they come to rely on her assistance more and more. In "Plan of Attack" we learn that she left police service soon after Foyle's resignation, but in that episode she returns to be his driver on his rejoining the force.

Having a voracious appetite, Sam's struggles with rationing are a constant theme. She invites herself to eat with Foyle on a number of occasions and covets a turkey (kept for evidence) in "Bleak Midwinter".

Sam's father and uncle are Church of England vicars. Her father, the Rev. Iain Stewart (Stephen Moore), visits her in Hastings ("Eagle Day"). He wants her to return home but comes to see that her work for the police is important (after discussions with Foyle, and using his university training in art to help Milner solve a crime). Sam stays with her uncle, the Rev. Aubrey Stewart (Brian Poyser), at his vicarage in Levenham during the episode "The French Drop", and Foyle houses him during an ecumenical conference near Hastings in "Plan of Attack". In the same episode, she states that all her uncles are vicars.

Sam becomes friendly with Andrew Foyle and, after a while, is involved romantically. The two attempt to keep their attachment from Andrew's father, fearing his disapproval. Sam provides support to Andrew when he suffers from shell shock in "Enemy Fire". Their relationship ends when Andrew sends her a "Dear Jane letter" in "Invasion". She becomes fond of American Private Joe Farnetti but turns him down when he asks her to marry him, though the relationship appears to have continued until sometime after D Day, since she complains in "Broken Souls" that he "ran off with some French girl". Andrew returns in "All Clear" and asks Sam to forgive him—and as they go out to celebrate VE day it seems that their romance will be re-established.

Andrew Foyle

Andrew Foyle (played by Julian Ovenden) is Christopher Foyle's only son. At the outbreak of the war he was a student but joined the RAF in "The German Woman". Undergoing his training as a fighter pilot in Scotlandmarker, he is later posted to the South Coast, where is involved in radar trials ("Eagle Day"). He sees action in the Battle of Britain. Eventually, in "Enemy Fire", the strain of almost-constant flying, coupled with grief at the loss of many friends, he briefly goes AWOL, suffering from combat fatigue. His superior, Wg Cdr Turner (Martin Turner), is understanding and transfers him to a training unit.

Andrew is seen with a girlfriend in "Among the Few" but the relationship doesn't last. For a time, he walks out with Sam Stewart but he is posted to Debden as a training officer in "Enemy Fire" (his penultimate on-screen appearance). Soon after this posting he ends his relationship with Sam by letter (read in voice-over only in "Invasion") after entering into a short-lived relationship with another girl there. He is subsequently promoted to squadron leader and posted to Maltamarker on active service, but after a serious bout of sinusitis ruins his eyesight he is demobbed and sent home. However, he remains an unseen character, referred to solely in dialogue and props, until his return to Hastings in May 1945 during the intended last episode ("All Clear"). Apologising to Sam for his poor treatment of her, he tries to resume their relationship—she, though initially only able to accept that they meet as "friends", appears to be thawing towards him by the end of the episode.

Historical accuracy

The series is notable for its attention to historical detail and the drama is frequently moved along by historical events of World War II. Creator Anthony Horowitz considered that to honour the veterans of WWII, it was important to get the details correct. As the series progressed, Horowitz became more interested in the 'murder mystery' format than the portrayal of history and exploration of the Home Front. However, the Imperial War Museum is credited in an advisory capacity in some episodes.

There are a few anachronisms and inaccuracies in the series, such as the presence of the Hastings harbour arm. The harbour arm has been shown several times throughout the series, even though it was not built until after the war. Foyle's rank of Detective Chief Superintendent was not introduced into the British police until 1949. In the episode "Bad Blood", which takes place in 1942, the drug streptomycin was used to cure Sam's anthrax infection, but streptomycin was not isolated until October 1943. In one episode, reference was made to searching for a woman at the 'train station' and 'coach station'. The term 'train station' would not have been used in England until relatively recently. It would have been referred to as the railway station, or simply the station. Few coach services operated at that time, and those that did were suspended in 1942, so Hastings would not have had a coach station.


Foyle's War won the Lew Grade Audience Award at the BAFTA Television Awards in 2003. The award is based on the results of a viewer's poll conducted by the Radio Times.

DVD releases

Series Episodes Originally aired DVD Release
Region 2 Region 1 Cover Art Discs
1 4 2002 10 February 2003 11 March 2003 cover 4
2 4 2003 9 February 2004 20 July 2004 4
3 4 2004 7 March 2005 1 November 2005 4
4 2 2006 9 October 2006 17 July 2007 2
5 2 2007 16 April 2007 17 July 2007 2
6 3 2008 28 April 2008 5 August 2008 3

Please note that in the US series four and series five are combined and sold as series four and series six is sold as series five.Within the UK, the DVDs are distributed by Acorn Media UK.

Worldwide Screenings

In South Africa the show began airing in 2009 on the pay service DStv, it aired on Hallmark Channel from early 2009 - airing all the episodes from season 1 to season 6.

Notes and references

  3. DCS Summers remarks to Foyle, ”I understand that you don't drive? I've never heard of a Chief Superintendent who can't drive, but still …” in the early episode “The German Woman”, and it is assumed he cannot drive until the very last episode, when he drives Mrs. Milner to hospital to give birth—he explains that he had been able to drive all the time, but chose not to.
  4. "Production Notes", Series Four DVD extras
  5. "Production Notes", Series Five DVD extras

External links

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