21 January 2020 The Irish Film & Television Network
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Thaddeus O’Sullivan Directs ‘The Crimson Field’
02 May 2014 : Deirdre Molumby
After directing RTÉ drama series ‘Amber’, Thaddeus O’Sullivan returns to work on another TV drama – this time BBC series ‘The Crimson Field’. Here IFTN talks to the director about the show for which he has directed the next two episodes, the series finale.

Airing on BBC One for the last four Sunday nights so far, ‘The Crimson Field’ is set in a hospital near the front during World War I in northern France. It is about the volunteer nurses or ‘VADs’ who mostly came from middle and upper class society in Britain and volunteered to serve in hospitals. They had very little training but in this series we find what they learn goes beyond the duties of an average nurse.

Thaddeus tells IFTN, “The series is about the experiences of these women. What you see in each episode, every week, is some soldier or group of soldiers who have come directly from the front, and their relationship to the hospital. They come with the most horrific wounds so the show deals with that, it deals with post-traumatic stress, and the psychological effects of war on the solider. We see all this through the context of life in the hospital.

“The episode on Sunday is about a Senior Officer who comes to the tent and pretends that he is ok but is actually going blind, and he wants to go back to the front. That’s one strand of the story. In the following week, one of the nurses, who is having a relationship with a German soldier, is discovered. She is court-marshalled and threatened with being shot. That’s the very last episode in the series.”

It was the writer and creator of the series, Sarah Phelps, best-known for popular soap ‘Eastenders’ for which she has written over 50 episodes, that drew Thaddeus to the project. But he also had a personal connection with the project: “my grandfather served throughout World War I in France, the Middle East, and Palestine. So it’s always been interesting to me and there’s a special interest now because of the anniversary, which is why the series is being made.”

As an established film and TV director, with credits including ‘Ordinary Decent Criminal’, ‘Stella Days’, and ‘Into the Storm’, Thaddeus says that generally he prefers the freedom filmmaking offers. He allows, however, that “television has become more interesting in recent years, so I’m also very happy to do television and really enjoy it. I like the pace of it, it’s fast-moving, and you keep working.”

Episode 5 of ‘The Crimson Field’ airs at 9pm on BBC1, this Sunday 4th May.

Episode 6 of the series airs at the same time on BBC1 on Sunday 11th May.

You can see a trailer for the series here:

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