My Boy Jack

My Boy Jack
Sunday 11 November 2007 9:00pm – 11:00pm on ITV1.

It’s 1915 and World War 1 has been declared. Aged only 17, Rudyard Kipling’s son John “Jack” (Daniel Radcliffe), like most of his generation, is swept up in the enthusiasm to fight the Germans, a mood stoked vigorously by his father. Jack is cripplingly short-sighted and the Army has rejected him twice, rendering him too myopic even for an Army suffering thousands of casualties a week and desperate for recruits. Yet Rudyard is undeterred, determined that his son should go to the Front, like countless other young me, and fight for the values that he, Rudyard, espouses so publicly.

Using his fame and influence, Rudyard persuades Lord Roberts, on his death bed, to get Jack a commission in the Irish guards. This intervention is barely tolerated by Carrie and daughter Elise (Carey Mulligan) as they disagree Jack is fit to fight and fear for his safety on the front line.

Jack is instantly popular with his troop – he is a great leader and trains tirelessly to overcome the disability that is his eyesight. Six months later Jack sails to France as a lieutenant. In his pocket is a spare pair of spectacles and written permission from his father to travel to the Front before his eighteenth birthday. On the day of his birthday, Jack is told they will go over the top the following day. Days later, the Kipling family are informed that Jack is ‘missing believed wounded’, news which devastates them and leaves Elsie furious at her father for his part in Jack’s fate.

Desperately clinging to the hope that their son is still alive, Carrie and Rudyard scour hospitals and obsessively track down and interview survivors. Two years later, Jack’s friend and fellow Irish Guard Private Bowe (Martin McCann) arrives at Bateman’s, the Kiplings’ home in Sussex. Suffering from shell shock, he finally describes to the assembled family what had happened in the Battle of Loos. The searching and the hoping are over.

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