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Keeping a stiff upper lip might be the quintessentially English way of handling a crisis, but for noted author P.G. Wodehouse, doing so backfired on him during World War II. The biopic, Wodehouse in Exile, tells the story of how it happened.

Wodehouse in Exile
Wodehouse in Exile © BBC

It is 1940 when the made-for-TV movie opens, and Pelham Greville “Plum” Woodhouse (Tim Pigott-Smith, North & South), author of the humorous Blandings and Jeeves stories, is taken from his home in Le Touquet, France by German army officials and sent to an internment camp as an “enemy alien.” While in confinement, he regales other interned Englishmen, including a chap named Mackintosh (Paul Ritter, Vera), with tales he has written of life at the camp.

A few months shy of his 60th birthday, Wodehouse is released, as is Mackintosh, and both are brought to a swanky hotel in Berlin. It is here that Werner Plack (Richard Dormer, Hidden), one of Plum’s friends from Hollywood who is now working for the German Foreign Office, persuades Wodehouse (with help from Mackintosh) to do a series of five radio broadcasts for his fans in America.

Unfortunately, Wodehouse and his wife Ethel (Zoë Wanamaker, My Family) soon discover that his well-intentioned and witty anecdotes about life at the internment camp have been found to be anything but funny. To the British government and his fellow countrymen, Wodehouse’s early release from the camp indicates collusion with the Germans and his broadcasts as enemy propaganda used to forestall the United States from entering the war. And so Wodehouse finds himself charged with treason and met with enmity.

As the story continues to unfold, Plum and Ethel, with the help of Malcolm Muggeridge (Julian Rhind-Tutt, The Hour) of the British Intelligence Office, try to get Wodehouse absolved and restore his reputation. But the damage has been done.

Wodehouse in Exile premieres in the US on the following local PBS stations. Check your local listings for debut dates and times.

StateCityStation
ARKANSASArkadelphia, El Dorado, Fayetteville, Jonesboro, Little Rock, Mountain View
CONNECTICUTBridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Norwich
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIAWashington, DC
NEW YORKBuffalo
OHIOCincinnati
TENNESSEEMemphis

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Local PBS Stations Debut Biopic Wodehouse in Exile