Offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the Infantry Training Centre situated in Catterick, North Yorkshire, the cameras chronicle the journey of a platoon of fresh-faced infantry recruits. These young individuals embark on a demanding six-month training regimen, challenging their physical and mental limits to ascertain if they possess the mettle required to serve on the frontline of the British Army.
Hailing from Label1, known for the acclaimed BBC series “Hospital,” this five-part documentary tracks the evolution of these young men and women. They bid farewell to familiar faces, trading nine-to-five routines and video games for real weaponry and the attire of a soldier. The pivotal question looms: do they possess the prowess to function as close combat warriors, ready for action anywhere in the world? Only the most exceptional will emerge victorious.
Within this cohort of recruits, one finds a 20-year-old whose mother embraces pacifism, a 17-year-old who once toiled in a fast-food establishment, a 21-year-old ex-aspiring footballer from Middlesbrough, and an 18-year-old woman eager to follow in her military family’s footsteps, particularly her father’s.
It is worth noting that only since 2018 have women been permitted to assume frontline infantry roles, and they must meet the same exacting standards as their male counterparts.
These 45 recruits confront arduous obstacle courses, master the handling and firing of weapons, endure thorough inspections, and, most crucially, learn the art of close-quarter combat employing a bayonet.
Under the vigilant gaze of the training cadre, including Lieutenant Wahab, Sergeant McIntosh, and Corporal White, the recruits confront the stark realities of frontline soldiering, a role now particularly resonant with war once more raging in Europe, a phenomenon not witnessed for a generation.
Some will persevere, accomplishing feats they once deemed beyond their reach, while others will grapple with the initial hurdles.
Lorraine Charker-Phillips, CEO and co-founder of Label1, remarks, “Capturing the recruits’ transformations across the series from civilian to front line soldiers in just 6 months was extraordinary. We are incredibly grateful for the exclusive access we were given and for the commitment that the trainers and recruits gave to the series that allowed us to tell their stories.”
Jack Bootle, Head of Specialist Factual commissioning at the BBC, says: “Soldier takes viewers behind the scenes at ITC Catterick and into the heart of the British Army. I’m delighted to bring this revelatory series to BBC One and iPlayer, and looking forward to viewers watching our new recruits transform from kids to close combat warriors.”
Colonel Shaun Chandler, Commander Headquarters Soldier Academy (North) says: “I am delighted that Soldier is coming to BBC One and BBC iPlayer. Six months of filming with the recruits and instructors of D1 Platoon at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick has resulted in a fascinating documentary covering infantry training showcasing the recruits growing in strength and confidence as they face their futures as infanteers in the British Army.”
Soldier is a co-commission of BBC Factual and BBC England, produced by Label1, a Fremantle label. The inaugural episode airs on Thursday, 5th October, at 9 p.m. on BBC One, with all episodes subsequently available on BBC iPlayer.
This new series represents the BBC’s ongoing commitment to generate content from various regions of the UK. Over the next six years, the BBC will intensify its operations across the North of England, reaffirming its pledge to authentically represent and serve all corners of the country, delivering substantial value to its diverse audience.
The ambitious proposals outlined in the BBC Across the UK plan provide even greater prominence to narratives emerging from communities in the North region. This initiative stands as the most substantial reconfiguration of the BBC, both creatively and journalistically, in its storied history.
Kim Rossiter serves as the series producer, while Paul Wells directs. Fran Baker, Lorraine Charker-Phillips, and Simon Dickson hold executive production roles. BBC’s commissioning editors for the project are Jack Bootle and Tony Parker.