The Wipers Times

Synopsis: Just after the First World War Fred Roberts goes for a job as a newspaper journalist and tells the sub-editor how, in the trenches in 1916, he discovered a printing press in working order. Helped by ex-printer Sergeant Harris and with his friend Jack Pearson as his assistant, he sets up the Wipers Times - the name coming from the soldiers' pronunciation of the town Ypres. Despite disapproval from officious Colonel Howfield but with backing from sympathetic General Mitford they produce twenty-three issues of a satirical magazine - its articles represented on screen in black and white - which boosts morale and even gets mentioned in the Tatler. The press is destroyed by a German shell but another is found and the paper's title changed to fit in with wherever the regiment is deployed. Pearson and Roberts are both awarded gallantry medals but when Roberts is only offered the job of crossword compiler by the sub-editor he moves to Canada as a prospector while Pearson marries and opens a hot
Genre: War
Director(s): Andy De Emmony
Production: PBS Home Video
Rotten Tomatoes:
92 min

It's probably

the finest in the world.

It's a manual, pedal-operated

printing machine

patented in 1872 by Josiah Wade.

Manufactured in Halifax,

subsequently sold all over the


In short, it's a work of art.

So, shall we smash it up?

No. Stupid, Dodd.

Look, it's even got the blocks and

the trays of type.

Go on, stick that over there, Smith.

How on earth do you know all this,


I was a printer in civvy street,


Good grief.

You kept quiet about that.

Well, it didn't seem relevant to

fighting Fritz, sir.

No. But it might be now.

Can you make this work?

Well, I mean,

she's not been used for a while.

The type's all over the countryside.

There's a few unwelcome visitors.

But give it a bit of time, reckon

so, sir. Yes, sir.

How's it work then, Sar'nt?

Well, you stick

the ink on that plate there.

And the rollers come down onto

the block there.

Paper goes in there.

Don't touch it.

Very interesting.

What are we going to do with it?

We're going to borrow it.

Isn't that looting?

No, no. It's temporary requisitioning

of civilian

facilities for military purposes.

Oh, right. Sounds like looting.

Have you ever done any journalism,


Good God, no! Excellent.

Me neither.

Because what we're going to do, is

we're going to produce a newspaper.

Aren't we, Sergeant? If you say so,


What, like the Daily Mail?

I was thinking something

rather more accurate.

The Times?

The Wipers Times.

Move it, lads! Move it!

We've got plenty of ink,

plenty of paper.

In fact, according to Harris,

the only thing

we seem to be lacking is "copy".

Uh-huh. None of us is writing men.

We haven't done any journalism.

There's a first time for everything.

It can't be that hard.

I think we should aim to produce

something a bit like Punch,

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Ian Hislop

Ian David Hislop (born 13 July 1960) is an English journalist, satirist, writer, broadcaster and editor of the magazine Private Eye. He has appeared on many radio and television programmes, and has been a team captain on the BBC quiz show Have I Got News for You since the programme's inception in 1990. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "The Wipers Times" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 6 Mar. 2021. <>.

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