TV review: Our Girl starring Lacey Turner, BBC1

Perspectives, Sun ITV

I'm not sure about the propriety of BBC1 running a one-and-a-half-hour Army recruitment film on a Sunday night.

Not all that sure about the timing either. What with British troops withdrawing from Afghanistan and defence cuts unlikely to be relieved by the last Budget, you would have thought the last thing anyone was after was a rush of eager young bodies through the recruiting-office door on Monday morning. And yet Tony Grounds's drama Our Girl was so unequivocally approving of the benefits of joining up that it seemed entirely possible that viewers at a loose end might consider giving Army life a go. There were characters here who derided the organisation. But they were such conspicuous dead-end losers that their criticisms simply turned into another kind of endorsement.

As recruitment films go, it was much better written and acted than the usual output, though. Grounds built his drama around Molly Dawes (Lacey Turner), a mouthy teenager first seen celebrating her 18th birthday in a rackety east London household. Molly's mother is pregnant with her sixth baby and Molly's father is a feckless oaf who gets by on benefit fraud and simmering xenophobia. Molly's boyfriend, Artan, is an Albanian builder with a slightly ramshackle approach to sexual fidelity. So when Molly threw up in front of the army recruiting office after a particularly grim night out, she was open to the idea that there might be a better future than the one that seemed fated for her.

What followed was a familiar boot-camp trajectory: initial chippiness and doubt hardening into resolve and acquired discipline. You got the fierce (but secretly tender-hearted) NCO, bellowing his spiel at terrified newbies. You got the assault course sequence, a Rocky-style montage of improving fitness from which only “Eye of the Tiger” was missing. And you got the first tender shoots of esprit de corps; in this case, Molly's fellow recruits secretly intervening so that a surprise locker inspection didn't ruin her chances. One of Molly's fellow enlistees briefly had a go at injecting a cynical note, telling her that, “It's like a cult... they break you down to nothing and then build you up the way they want you built.” But it was almost immediately contradicted by the increasingly kindly corporal: “What we do, we do to save your life, Molly.”

Grounds finished by having his cake and eating it – contriving an ending that squeezed every drop of pathos available from the last letter home that all serving troops are required to write, but which then made it clear that Molly had survived after all. The coffin with the “Our Girl” wreath on it turned out to contain someone else's daughter and the line in which Molly had posthumously endorsed her decision (“Funny to think that the thing that made me into some sort of decent human being has been the death of me, but it's better this way, isn't it?”) was suddenly drained of tragic irony to become a straightforward rallying cry. That's the thing about recruitment films. They might mention the dangers, but they don't usually show people dying.

Warwick Davis visited Transylvania and Auschwitz in this week's Perspectives to tell the story of the Ovitz family, a Romanian showbiz family who survived both the camp and, more remarkably, the attentions of Dr Mengele. The reason Dr Mengele was interested was because they were all dwarfs. The reason they survived was because they never let him get bored enough to dispatch them. It was an extraordinary story skilfully told by Davis and director Ursula MacFarlane, who used Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to cast it as a terrible kind of fairy-tale, drawing on a Nazi remake of the story and the fact that the Walt Disney version was one of Hitler's favourite films. He just couldn't see that he was the Evil Queen.

twitter.com/tds153

Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

film
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Arts and Entertainment
All-new couples 'Come Dine With Me'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne
musicReview: BST Hyde Park, London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart star in Almost Royal burning bright productions
tvTV comedy following British ‘aristos’ is accused of mocking the trusting nature of Americans
Arts and Entertainment
Sassoon threw his Military Cross into the Mersey
booksAn early draft of ‘Atrocities’ shows the anti-war sentiment was toned down before publication
Arts and Entertainment
Actors and technicians on the march against changes made by Hollande
theatreOpening performances of the Avignon theatre festival cancelled as actors and technicians walk out
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West performed in a chain mail mask at Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park
Rapper booed at Wireless over bizarre rant
Arts and Entertainment

They're back, they're big – and they're still spectacularly boring

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil