In these times of economic uncertainty, with Germany doing its level best to help everyone in the EU with their currency problems, it seems fitting to have a look back to 1981 – and beyond – to Private Schulz, a wartime comedy mini-series in which Germany tried to do its exact opposite: destabilise the currency of Britain.
Based on the real-life Operation Bernhard and written by Jack Pullman, Private Schulz saw Michael Elphick play the eponymous Schulz, a petty criminal recruited to the SS. He convinces the Nazis to counterfeit British five pound notes, in an attempt to cause massive inflation in the British economy and ruin its war efforts. Schulz, of course, simply wants to steal the fake notes and become rich.
Over six episodes, Schulz – under the direction of Ian Richardson, who played several roles in the series – first has to recruit people to make the notes, which are indistinguishable from the real thing, then infiltrate Britain to distribute the notes – something for which he has to learn how to be English. Of course, as we all know, the scheme never succeeded so you can guess not everything goes according to plan.
Also appearing in the show was Billie Whitelaw as a prostitute with a mental block that stopped her sleeping with any soldier below the rank of major, Rula Lenska, Cyril Shaps, David Swift and Ken Campbell. And as well as Operation Bernhard, a number of other real-life people, operations and incidents from the War were mentioned or used in the show, including the Venlo Incident and Salon Kitty.
Pulman died in 1979, but he was awarded a writers award by the Royal Television Society for his work on the show. It’s available on DVD, but you can watch the first episode on YouTube below (just to be helpful part 1 of the video is part 2 in the playlist and vice versa. Sorry).