David Attenbourough's magisterial Life On Earth, which took several years to make, and began airing in 1979, has the most terrific soundtrack, and, believe it or not, the Battleground theme has a similarly somber grandeur, albeit with a decidedly martial edge.
I scanned the credits, but no mention of a composer is made, leaving me wondering if it might have been a Music-Library track. We'll return to this theme, if you'll pardon the pun, in due course.
As Woodward moves from the generalities of the era to the specifics of the battle to be fought, he moves over to a large map, and between his gesticulating at this and his relaxed but authoritative sounding verbal description, all somewhat in the manner of a military briefing, we learn a bit about the historical events.
Above we have the British and their allies at left, between the road to La Haye Sainte (top), and the Hougoumont manor house and farm complex (bottom), facing the French at right. The British have considerably less cavalry, and what they have is on the wings, whereas the French cavalry are held in a second line, like a reserve. Both sides mass their guns centrally.
Woodward relates how Boney left things too late on the day (although he doesn't mention the poor weather that was the reason), and how he effectively played into Wellington's hands, by following a tactical line Nosey had anticipated, and on ground of the latter's choosing. Woodward does mention the role of the Prussians, upon whom Wellington's decision to stand and fight at Mont St. Jean depended, but they have no part in this re-fight!
In this televised instance of such a scenario, Gilder talks himself up quite a bit, whilst Braithwaite continually makes gentle jokes throughout. Not only does Gilder assume the dominant role as a player, but, despite Braithwaite's resolve to remain stoically humourous, he also has the last laugh in his role as Napoleon.
In this re-fight, some aspects of history are repeated, with British commanders Picton and Uxbridge falling during the battle, whilst others are turned on their head, with Gilder-Napoleon breaking Braithwaite-Wellington's centre.
It came perilously close to this on the day of the real battle, of course. But the 'Prooshians' came to the rescue. Unfortunately for Braithwaite there were no 'Men in Black' on this day in an imaginary 1815.
Now, I'm certainly not saying, by any means, that Gilder cheated - as Woodward notes, 'Peter took no chances, he hit John's centre hard' - and certainly the dice rolled in his favour too, but... Well, sheer bluff and bravado might have, on this occasion, as undoubtedly they sometimes do in real life, have helped carry the day!
So, for our next episode we'll be skipping ahead an episode, whilst travelling further back in time, : Châlons sur Marne, 451 AD. I hope to see you there!