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Series / Wish Me Luck

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Wish Me Luck is a British TV show from The '80s about a British army unit during World War II that goes undercover in France to help La Résistance. Series One (set in 1942) and Two (in 1943) follow various female officers, including Liz Grainger and Mattie Firman as they struggle both to stay alive in occupied France and to overcome societal pressures against women serving on active duty. Series Three is about the rebellion organized by the Maquis du Vercors in 1944.


The series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Liz, during training. Mattie as well, though she evolved into something of a Broken Ace.
  • Action Girl: Liz, Mattie.
  • Almost Kiss: between Grégoire and Liz.
  • Alpha Bitch: Claudine is implied to have been this in school.
  • Badass Preacher: Rex from series 3, who refuses to crack under torture
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Liz, Mattie.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted when Mattie is roughed up and tortured.
  • Being Personal Isn't Professional: Grégoire cites this as the reason he's recommended Liz to be sent home: when you work in the resistance, being close to people and having feelings for them makes you vulnerable, and Liz has made him vulnerable.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Liz and Grégoire; Mattie and Cyrano.
  • Betty and Veronica: Liz is Archie, her husband is Betty, Grégoire is Veronica.
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  • Big Damn Heroes: The Resistance rescuing Mattie.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Grégoire and Liz.
  • Bittersweet Ending: at the end of series 1, Mattie and Liz are both safely back home, but it's unclear whether the raid the resistance was planning will succeed; Claudine has been arrested and will probably suffer the same fate as Mattie did, but with no one to save her; Liz's marriage is not looking great; and in the very last scene, Mattie joyfully returns home completely unaware that her mother has committed suicide by gassing herself.
  • Bluff the Imposter: after Mattie and her wireless are captured, the Germans have an operator pretending to be her transmitting codes back to England. However, Mattie's "godmother" (the wireless operator she communicates with at HQ) thinks something's up and brings it to Cal, who has her insert a "trick question" in her transmission back to Mattie: "Have you contacted Micheline as ordered?" The correct answer is "who is Micheline?," (as there is no agent with that name), the answer they get is "Can you send further details?," a frustratingly inconclusive answer
  • Book-Ends: the first and last episodes of series 1 both begin with one of the British female agents being interrogated, by being drenched in water, while wearing a white dress. It is not played for Fanservice as it is very distressing. In episode one, the woman is Liz, during a training exercise; in the episode 8, it's Mattie.
  • Break the Cutie: Mattie, when she is rejected from active duty and then when she is captured. Together with her background, she verges on The Woobie at times.
  • British Brevity: Only 8 episodes a series.
  • Call-Back: In the first episode, Faith warns the agents-in-training that while they're in France, they must be careful not to give away the fact that they're British and pay attention to the little things such as putting the tea in the cup before the milk rather than after. A few episodes later, Liz must serve tea to a Nazi and hesitates a bit before pouring the tea and the milk in the correct French way.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Mattie's ability to defeat men in hand-to-hand combat. Subverted: despite putting up a fight against the Abwehr agents, they succeed in taking her in.
  • Chummy Commies: several of the people the cell works with are Communists, although the higher ups don't like it (forseeing the Cold War in the future)
    • In series 3 Faith and Max speculate that a reason why the Gaullists specifically are slow to help the fighters on Le Crest because they're communists, and the Gaullists forsee an end to the war in which they'd be political rivals
  • Les Collaborateurs: Vivien in series 2 discovers to her horror that the daughter she gave up for adoption is now dating a German soldier!
    • There's also the Nosy Neighbor of the family putting up Emily/Zoe, who eventually informs on them. Emily goes to her house to kill her, only to discover she's already been killed as a collaborator by La Résistance
    • Series 3 gives us Phillipe, the local Vichy prefect and Dominique's ex-husband. He gives a speech about how he's doing what he's doing for France, Dominique immediately calls him on his BS
  • Cool Old Guy: Renard, the crusty old commander of La Résistance on Le Crest in series 3
  • Crash-Into Hello: Twice between Mattie and Cyrano/Colin.
  • Crisis of Faith: Rex has a pretty serious one after the Nazis massacre 19 people from a village that won;t give him up. He eventually stops being a priest because of it
  • Deadpan Snarker: this is a British TV show after all. Cad is certainly a notable example.
    • Series 3 gives us the incredibly snarky and camp Antoine as courier.
  • Death Seeker: Rex snaps after his Crisis of Faith and walks up to the Nazi headquarters with a pistol, killing the guards before being himself killed by the commander
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: the British (and German) army's view of women.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Adele/Emily and Luc make it to Beaufort and almost to Liz's safe haven, but are picked up by a German patrol and are summarily executed. Liz is unable to save them with the deal she made for Kit's life because she didn't know they'd been caught.
  • Did You Just Have Sex? : Victor can tell that Liz cheated on her husband.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Mattie's mother, who is Jewish, committing suicide by using gas.
  • Double Agent: Vivien gets suspected of being one, given her suspicious behavior (being evasive, unauthorized trips to Toulouse, being seen in the company of German officers...) It's actually because she's tracking down the now-19-year old daughter she had to give up for adoption, who's now dating a Wehrmacht officer.
  • Double Standard: Justified by the setting and mostly to do with gender roles.
    • Mattie tells Colin/Cyrano that she picked up a one-night stand at the movies. When he fails to hide his disapproval, she somewhat angrily justifies herself by the fact that men do this all the time.
    • Many characters cite the fact that Liz has a young child as a reason she shouldn't be on active duty, even though her husband has done the same thing. To be fair, Liz's husband isn't in the field and he has a fairly low chance of being killed (for World War II anyway).
  • English Rose: Liz. She's a pretty (but not too pretty) well-bred, upper-class young woman who is also courageous, principled and willing to serve her country.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Claudine
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Mattie and Cyrano throw off the Nazi Abwehr agents by taking off their clothes and getting into bed to pretend they're having sex. After danger has passed, they finally resolve their UST.
  • Family Versus Career: discussed by Faith and Liz.
  • A Father to His Men: Cad.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Krieger.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Mattie's mother Aimée wakes up screaming from memories of them escaping France together (they had to because they were Jewish) by hiding buried under a pile of coal. She is eventually Driven to Suicide by these memories.
  • French Jerk: Maurice sometimes comes off a bit like this. So does Claudine, especially to Mattie.
  • Fish out of Water: Mattie
  • Foreshadowing: The possibility of capture is alluded to, but more in relation to Mattie than to anyone else.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Mattie fears this.
  • Heroic BSoD: Colin gets it rather bad after he's forced to kill a female Milice officer who discovers his papers, maps, and plans for the team, requiring him to be evacuated via Spain
    • Kit Vanson spends all 3 series just barely managing to avoid this, having thrown himself into espionage (and occasionally demonstrating flashes of Death Seeker tendencies) in order to not think about his dead wife and children.
  • Hidden Depths: Mattie is a devil-may-care ladette who enjoys sex, sports and drinking...but she's also half-French and half-Jewish, which gives her a deeply personal reason to fight the Nazis
  • Ill Girl: Unusually, it's an older woman, Mattie's mother.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: used by the Gestapo.
  • Karma Houdini: General Stuckler, as Liz negotiates with him to release Kit in exchange for a guarantee of safe passage from the Maquis. Beautifully subverted when the Maquis just shoots him anyways
  • Keep the Home Fires Burning
  • The Lad-ette: Mattie.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Emily/Zoe, a devout Catholic, has sex with her boyfriend once before going off on her mission (both because she might not come back and because she's concerned she might have to seduce Germans on her mission). And of course, she ends up pregnant. Again despite being Catholic she takes some abortion-triggering pills for the good of the mission, although it triggers some angst for both her and Vivien, who had to give up her own child at a similar age
  • Lewd Lust, Chaste Sex: Justified in that Liz and Grégoire cannot consummate their intense sexual tension while Liz and her husband Lawrence have tepid sex.
    Lawrence: It was never a grand passion.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Mattie.
  • Married to the Job: Cad is most explicitly described as such but Faith and Liz have hints of this too.
  • Meaningful Name: Faith, who has faith in her operatives.
    • Mattie's code name Aimée, which means "loved": appropriately, Mattie is a very lonely person who really wants to be loved. She tells Colin/Cyrano, "I've never slept with someone I liked before."
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender
  • The Mole: Claudine.
    • Series 3 gives us Nicole
  • Naïve Newcomer: Emily aka Zoe from series 2 strikes everyone else as being too young and innocent to be a spy, but eventually proves to be quite an effective agent.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Truth in Television for the time, although Faith may be an aversion.
  • Non-Action Guy: Liz's husband Lawrence, which may be why he resents her going into the field.
  • Nosy Neighbor: Zoe's host family has one, which is unfortunate as "Zoe" is a British agent. She eventually informs on them to the Germans, and is subsequently killed by La Résistance
  • Not So Stoic: For all his determination to keep a Stiff Upper Lip, Grégoire can't stand putting Liz in harm's way, because he loves her and couldn't bear it is she were captured or killed.
  • Official Secrets Act: this prevents Mattie and Claudine from telling their families why they're really leaving home for such a long time. This being The '40s, their male relatives are not pleased.
  • Passed-Over Promotion: Mattie, who is later reinstated.
  • Pet the Dog: Krieger could have told the Gestapo that Mattie was Jewish, which would have guaranteed her a Fate Worse than Death...but he didn't.
    • Apparently how Sylvie realized that Franz might be able to help her free Rex was by watching him feed the swans at the local park. When she's due to be executed he comes to her cell and comforts her
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Krieger claims to be one.
    • Franz from series 3 actually is one: he is clearly uncomfortable guarding a priest (even one who's a Maquis commander) and is actually relieved when "six desperate men" (aka: Sylvie and Adele) manage to free his prisoner. He is also visibly distraught when she's taken off to be executed
  • Put on a Bus: In series 2 Mattie apparently is out in the field in another section, and as such she doesn't appear
    • The same thing happens to Liz in series 3 although she turns up in the last 2 episodes of the series. Cad similarly has been transferred to work more in-depth with the Americans
    • Bus Crash: Series 2 reveals that the Communist cell the team had been working with got captured by the Nazis
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: the division the main characters serve in is considered this by some in the army. Given that the primary talent they seem to be recruited for is the ability to speak French fluently and without an accent, almost all of them come from distinctly non-military backgrounds; most of them appearing to be somewhat aristocratic (Mattie being the most notable exception), as those were the sort of people who could have either studied the language extensively or lived in France. This also makes them a rather odd match with the heavily communist French Underground agents they work with.
  • Red Shirt: Nigel, who is introduced in episode 7 only to be killed of during the dramatic rescue in episode 8.
  • La Résistance: Who the British protagonists often find themselves working with. Both Gaullists and Communists are present, who do not necessarily get along
  • Rich Bitch: Claudine. However, Mattie and her grandfather think that all members of the upper class are this.
  • Right-Hand Hottie: Faith to Cad.
  • Servile Snarker: Antoine to Dominique
  • Shown Their Work: the show portrays very accurately what is was like to live in occupied France during World War II, down to the methods used by the French Resistance to transmit messages.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Faith and Liz. In the second series, we also get Vivien and Emily
  • Standard Female Grab Area: used by the Abwehr when they take Mattie away.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: what most men would prefer Liz and Mattie do rather than risk their lives against the Nazis—including Liz's husband.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: not surprisingly, many characters are this: Faith, Cad, Liz, Grégoire, Colin. Somewhat deconstructed : all of the above people suffer from more or less serious Cannot Spit It Out, and characters who exemplify this trope are described by others as being very cold, closed-off, and in denial of their emotions. Liz tells Grégoire that if he simply never talks about the tragedy he's experienced he will lose sight of what he's fighting for.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Cyrano, Maurice
  • The BBC: its radio branch transmits coded messages to La Résistance.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Mattie and Liz.
  • Translation Convention: When the team is in France, everyone speaks English with British accents, except for the German characters, who have German accents. During training, characters speak French to demonstrate their fluency in the language
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Averted. Mattie, the more tomboyish one, was captured and it appeared she might die, but was rescued.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Gaspard/Gordon, the explosives expert who the team encounters in series 2, who spends a lot of time yelling at them angrily for their incompetence
  • Voice of the Resistance: how the characters communicate with their superiors.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: the Communist Résistance doesn't always get along very well with the undercover British spies.
    • In series 2 we learn that the Communists the team was working with in series 1 got into a fight with some Gaullists over a weapons drop leading to both groups getting nabbed by the Germans. We also have the tension between Cad and his equivalent in the Free French, who have agreed to merge their organizations but have not agreed how they're going to do that.
  • Whitehall: mentioned as being the source of Cad's orders.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Antoine from series 3
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: basically the only disguise the British agents have.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Those Wacky Nazis would.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Nazi commander in series 2's go-to method of getting people to comply is to threaten to hurt/kill their children

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