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The Night Watch – the verdict

On Tuesday 12th July, the long awaited TV adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel The Night Watch was broadcast across the country. 

With only 90 minutes of screen time to portray a 480 page book, it was always going to be a tough job. But with an incredible cast, spectacular cinematography and an adapted screenplay by Paula Milne, the result was mesmerising, with Anna Maxwell Martin, Jodie Whittaker and Claire Foy all delivering memorable performances.

Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked out streets, illicit liaisons, sexual adventure, and ending back at the beginning in 1941, The Night Watch offered tantalising glimpses of clandestine worlds. And clearly, we weren’t the only ones that were impressed. The Night Watch received an array of incredible responses, some of which are below:

"Insanely tender… Maxwell Martin plays [Kay] brilliantly. Every performance was perfectly weighted – and it looked ravishing”  The Times

“Fans of Sarah Waters’ novel will not be disappointed by this beautifully shot adaptation by Paula Milne” Observer 

“An intriguing, atmospheric tale of forbidden love”  Daily Mail    

“Absorbing” The Telegraph

“Gorgeous adaptation of the Sarah Waters novel… the performances are involving and beautifully understated against the backdrop of the London blitz and its horrors” Guardian

“The cast is strong and its portrayal of 1940s sexual nonconformists as spy-like is vividly intact”  Sunday Times, Pick of the Week

9 Responses to “The Night Watch – the verdict”

Melanie Hale says:
July 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Can you please tell me when The Night Watch comes out on DVD, watched it on TV and really enjoyed it. I have Tipping the Velvet, Fingersmith and Affinity.


    Jane says:
    August 16, 2011 at 12:33 pm


    I'm asking the same question. If you find out, please let me know. I missed it on TV and BBC IPlayer. Gutted!!



Maria Manning says:
August 1, 2011 at 11:56 am

I watched the Night Watch and loved it, but then bought the book and loved this even more!!!
I am now a certain Sarah Waters fan and have just ordered 2 more of her books to read.
She really focuses on life in these periods as difficult as they are with the added adventure of young people exploring their sexuality.


Bathonian Brian says:
July 26, 2012 at 8:19 am

'The Night Watch' (filmed in my hometown) is out on DVD and is currently available from
For some reason the BBC don't list it on their shop website (!) and it appears to be only released in the Netherlands. (It states 'Uncensored' so that may have something to do with it.)
The BBC has many of their classic 'costume drama' productions released on DVD in the USA but not in the UK.
Does anyone know why? I asked a Director of a Jane Austen movie and he said they have rooms full of such recordings and doing nothing with them.


Jackie Barnes says:
July 27, 2012 at 9:12 am

I stumbled across this gem last night when I was looking for something to watch – and I wished it would never end! Spellbinding drama! It is available on DVD now.


Amy Hutchings says:
January 22, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Please could someone post a link to where I can buy it on DVD? I can't find it available anywhere!


sw-admin says:
January 23, 2013 at 10:38 am

Hi Amy you can buy it from here:

Hope this helps!


Kim says:
June 21, 2013 at 11:53 pm

Really want a copy of this DVD, but I'm in Canada. Don't know why all the other Sarah Waters books that were turned into movies are available on DVD in region 1 for Canada and the States, but not this one!? So frustrating. If anyone hears anything, please advise!


Andy Goss says:
August 31, 2014 at 9:10 am

The BBC interpretation of The Night Watch reached Australia a few weeks ago. Magnificent. I have not read the book, so I had no preconceptions, only the writeup on IMDB, but it sounded promising.
As a study in humanity, love, and change I have rarely seen its equal. Homosexuality is usually portrayed as an "issue", here it was just a part of life, and entirely appropriate in the context.
Fine piece of work, congratulations to all concerned.


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