Saturday, 21 January 2017

Battleground, link.

This blog was always going to contain infrequent posts, simply because compiling information about Peter Gilder can be hard to locate. I still hope that casual readers of this modest blog will get in touch with images, anecdotes, information or whatever to build up a more comprehensive picture.

 So for completeness sake we come onto Battleground produced by Tyne Tees Television, which was my local television company in the 1970's.
 I could never understand why TTTv took on the mantle of wargaming until I was privileged enough to sit down with Charlie Wesencraft a couple of years ago,when he explained how it all came about:

RR, I recently discovered that you had some input into the iconic Battleground series produced by the now defunct Tyne Tees Television. How did that come about?
CW, I had been asked by North Tyneside Council to do a series of six historical wargames for them.
On the first night two ladies from the local television company turned up and asked me about wargaming in general. I heard nothing for a while, but then I received a telephone call out of the blue from Tyne Tees Television asking if I could write a series of six scripts of battles fought by famous military personalities. Originally I wanted to portray the Battle of Cannae, and Hannibal, but the producer said very few people would know who he was! So they asked me to do Julius Caesar instead. I call them scripts but actually they had to be written on one page of foolscap, it was an interesting problem.
RR, I remember watching the series, and wanting to re fight the battles, it was amazing to a young wargamer.
CW, What actually happened was that I got John Braithwaite to help me prepare the battles. It was decided by the producer that we should record a pilot battle to see how things looked. I remember the producer, she was a vicar's daughter who swore like a trooper, I was appalled!
A younger wargamer called Peter Gilder was supposed to do the first battle, but nerves got the better of him. Peter had an anxiety attack and ended up fainting and being taken to hospital.
 So John and I did the pilot. I remember that the producer wanted us to throw a six to hit a gun, well of course neither John or I could manage to throw one, so we had to cheat a bit. They then insisted on smoke being blown all over the battlefield to add some drama, as if having beautiful wargames figures on a table wasn't enough.
 Anyway the series was accepted, filmed and released for television. 
RR, I have been lucky enough to have a dvd of four of the battles, I still think they are great, especially Gettysberg and Waterloo.

 I think Battleground reinforced my love of wargaming and filled me with the ambition to replicate what I saw on the programme.It is of its time, and can be very laboured when watched nowadays. Still I love to watch Gilder ragging poor John Braithwaite, he must have been a nightmare to fight against.

John Braithwaite [ Garrison Miniatures] 'enjoying a verbal and physical towsing by Peter Gilder. It got even worse in the Gettysburg episode I seem to remember.

 Anyway I thought it would be good if I included a link to the the hard work done by Doug Crowther when he downloaded the Battleground programmes onto You Tube.

So for people who would like to wallow in some great wargaming nostalgia, fill your boots.


  1. Great stuff Robbie and the link to YouTube works as well! Makes me feel quite old! I guess many of us aspired to have collections on the scale of those shown on the TV programmes in our youth and I think many of us can be very satisfied with what we've achieved for ourselves and the hobby.

    1. Gilder was the inspiration for so many, and frankly only a few have exceeded his wargame set ups.

  2. Nice article Robbie...fancy the King of Coll having a panic attack and being unable to play. He more than compensated for this in later years and was always full of charisma and confidence.

    1. It must have been difficult to stand in front of a TV camera and talk about wargaming, it would take some real bottle.

  3. This is Brilliant thanks so much for putting this together .
    In those Glory Days of Wargaming Peter Gilder was an inspiration and spurred me on to great things in the hobby his painting and basing and terrain were ahead of their time and still look amazing today . I met him once at the Model Engineer Exhibition in London he was there on the Hinchliffe stand ..with cases full of beautifully painted and animated figures .. Had a greatchat with him on painting and making one offs left with a heart full of inspiration and a bag full of figures .
    Great memories ..and Battleground Brilliant it will never age ..
    Thanks again ...

    1. Paul,
      You were far luckier than me. I always seemed to miss Peter Gilder when I used to attend Northern Militaire. I would still like to add some more detail to the site, so I am always looking for people to send in any anecdotes, information to build a more complete tribute. Thanks anyway for your kind comments.

  4. Hi,

    I was wondering if you could tell me what system/rules they are using? Also I love the "windage" stick I would love any details you might have. Best, D

    1. The rules would have been Peter Gilder's original GRAND MANNER rules. They have been re edited several times since the early 1970's but are still available I believe.

  5. Hi Robbie,

    Thanks I can't seem to find a copy of the rules anywhere. Any suggestions?


    1. It may be a long shot, but why dont you contact Mark Freeth at the Wargames Holiday Centre. If anyone should be able to help it will be Mark.