Royal Marines Commando School, Channel 4 - TV review
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Tuesday 29 July 2014
Channel 4's documentary series Royal Marines Commando School is a closely observed, deeply perceptive account of the process that turns young recruits into elite soldiers, and it grows more fascinating every week.
Last night 178 troop had reached their first "pass or fail" stage: the gym test. Recruit Marks and Recruit Borg offered contrasting examples of how not to graduate from marine school. Marks, an ex-builder had the physical makings of a great soldier but the wrong attitude. Borg had the right attitude but was podgy by marine standards. "He's never gonna be a ninja, he's always gonna be a little jelly baby," was how one of the training officers put it (Could Recruit Borg perhaps become a ninja jelly baby? This third option was never explored).
The training officers were tough with the recruits, fair in one-on-one interviews, but fixed-rig cameras in their staff room picked up some unguarded moments. It seems the 30-mile runs, the endless locker inspections and all the rest of it are just means to one all-important end: the transformation of wobbly-chinned civilians into dead-eyed soldiers. "These lads are training to go to Afghan' and shoot people in the face," said one troop sergeant after delivering some bad news to a teary-eyed recruit. "They need to learn to suppress their feelings...Expose them early and they can build a tolerance for it. That's what I say."
Wars all over the world are robbing children of their humanity, as we've seen. The recruits of 178 troop might not appreciate it yet, but it's their good fortune to have an ogre of a British army CO who's willing to do it for them the easy way.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Engineer pictured fixing plane's engine with 'duct tape' by concerned EasyJet passenger
- 2 Two-year-old says goodbye to bin man best friend
- 3 Saudi Arabia mosque bombing: Two volunteer security guards hailed as heroes for stopping Isis suicide bomber reaching worshippers
- 4 There is something wrong but very right about this Bible illustration
- 5 Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb
Jay Z's Tidal could be about to lose Beyonce's music in ultimate humiliation
Thrill of the chaste: The truth about Gandhi's sex life
Bob Dylan: How the Isle of Wight festival managed to steal the voice of a generation from Woodstock
Big Brother 2015 new housemates: Simon Gross returns as stripper Marc O'Neill, model Harry Amelia Martin and X Factor reject Sam Kay join
Star Wars 7: Andy Serkis character revealed as Supreme Leader Snoke
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'