Wodehouse in Exile, a BBC Four tv show, offered a fascinating insight into the events surrounding P.G. Wodehouse's notorious radio broadcasts during the Second World War. The script by Nigel Williams was sympathetic to Wodehouse, and Tim Pigott-Smith gave a charming portrayal of the great humorous writer, but there were enough nuances in the screenplay and performance for this to seem a fair and balanced account of a controversial story.
As a young boy, I fell in love with the Wodehouse books, and read a great many of them in a short space of time. This was not long after I'd discovered Agatha Christie, and I soon learned that Christie and Wodehouse were fans of each other. Dorothy L. Sayers and Anthony Berkeley were other crime writers who were very keen on Wodehouse, and I know that he was invited to a Detection Club dinner in the early 30s, though it's not entirely clear whether he actually showed up.
My father was one of the many people of his generation who felt that Wodehouse betrayed Britain. I can understand that, when one is facing the possibility of death during a war, feelings run very high and it's not too easy to be entirely judicious in one's assessment of those who seem to be having it easy. And that was the impression many people had of Wodehouse. There may be some truth in it, as he was a naive and perhaps self-indulgent man. But I don't believe he was a traitor.
The death of Wodehouse's daughter is one of the pivotal moments in the screenplay. One interesting snippet is that she was the author of a very good crime short story, "Inquest", under the mysterious pseudonym of Loel Yeo. It's well worth a look. Wodehouse too wrote a number of stories that verge on crime fiction,testament to his lifelong interest in the genre. As for me, I'm still an admirer of his work. And though the man was flawed, who isn't?. Wodehouse in Exile seemed to me to be informative as well as entertaining, and it enriched my understanding of the great writer's life.