Preview: The Wipers' Times

Ian Hislop and Nick Newman on The Wipers' Times

credit: Kirsten McTernan

Creators Ian Hislop and Nick Newman discuss working together

Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, the impressive creative team behind the play The Wipers' Times, are perhaps best known as editor and cartoonist respectively of the legendary satirical magazine Private Eye, but they have been collaborating since meeting in sixth form college. 'I've spent a big chunk of my life writing in a room with Ian,' admits Newman. 'And we are keen to tell each other when something's not funny,' Hislops retorts.

The Wipers Times, the title of a magazine produced by a group of soldiers in the trenches of Ypres, was first commissioned for BBC 2. 'All throughout the writing process it was pretty clear that it's about small spaces', Hislop explains. 'Dugouts, trenches, their HQ beneath the ramparts. Everything is about men in small rooms trying to be funny – and isn't that the stage?.

'The sound of 600 people laughing at jokes written 100 years ago is pretty hard to beat,' adds Hislop. However, the pair have been mindful not to lose sight of the poignancy of the soldiers' publication by getting caught up in punchlines. As Hislop observes, 'you can't laugh with them if you aren't prepared to understand why it is they are laughing.'

The Wipers Times

Ian Hislop and Nick Newman's satirical play about WWI.

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