Royal Marines Commando School, Channel 4
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 15 July 2014
Royal Marines Commando School is a programme about real violence, the state-sponsored kind that sends young men to kill and die, but, from the vantage point of the Royal Marines' Commando Training Centre in Devon, all that seemed a very long way off.
This is where raw recruits, barely out of their teens, are transformed into Royal Marine commandos. It's the most rigorous military training in the world, which explains why every year roughly a third of entrants fail to make it to the 32-week finish line. The Bafta-winning team behind Educating Yorkshire have embedded with the corps, using fixed rig cameras to make sure that no nuance of the training regime escapes our attention. You might expect this to be a radical departure from the daily life a Dewsbury comp, but in fact the similarities were more striking.
The excellently named Corporal "Froggy" Chauffour would clearly love to be giving his recruits the Full Metal Jacket treatment, but instead he often finds himself playing the role of nursery nurse. The first step of training is to teach the basics – the very basics – such as how to iron a sheet and how to keep your private parts clean. A higher level of competency is expected in most reception classes.
It's only the odd, observant detail that reminds us that, for these young men, a test much more serious than mock GCSEs is looming in the distance. Pity the poor recruit caught dozing while he's supposed to be learning how to use a rifle.
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