The Daily Telegraph
Sub commander ‘promoted’ as BBC continuity howler
THE BBC drama Vigil has been mocked by viewers for a continuity error that saw its submarine commander accidentally promoted to captain.
In Sunday night’s episode, Commander Neil Newsome (Paterson Joseph) suddenly appeared in a scene wearing rank slides with four stripes rather than three. It did not escape the notice of viewers, who were quick to point out the error on social media.
“The commander has promoted himself to captain mid patrol,” said one. “Promotion is fast in the submarine service. At 21.41: a (3-stripe) Commander. By 21.52: he’s a (4-stripe) Captain,” noted another. On a Facebook fan page devoted to the show, viewer Karim Cosslett wrote: “I’m loving Vigil but c’mon, continuity BBC – if you do police or military you gotta get it right.”
The programme-makers were not allowed to use real Royal Navy insignia in the drama, so devised their own, similar designs. Rhona Russell, the show’s costume designer, told The Daily Telegraph: “The first task on Vigil was to create our version of the Royal Navy. For legal reasons we were unable to use any of their real badges. We put together all the various jobs involved on a submarine, then our graphic designer helped create similar badges for all the uniforms. Our aim was to be as authentic as possible.”
The thriller was previously criticised for its unrealistic set design, with the crew living and working on an unusually spacious Vanguard-class submarine.
Tom Sayer, the show’s set designer, was responsible for creating the inside of the boat, taking notes from documentary clips and Hollywood blockbusters such as The Hunt for Red October, said, the corridors were made wider than the real thing “because there was no point in making it as narrow as the reality, with everyone walking single file. That would be a really boring show to watch.”
Viewers of TV dramas love to uncover solecisms, anachronisms and downright howlers, whether it be music that had not been composed at the time the action is set or the Union flag being flown upside down. The BBC’S latest crime thriller Vigil has had its fair share of complaints, notably that the nuclear submarine on which the murder investigation takes place is too spacious and not the claustrophobic metal tube it is in reality. Of course, the producers must be allowed some latitude: it is a fictional drama, after all. But the latest gaffe has caused consternation in naval ranks. Vigil’s commander has suddenly appeared wearing a captain’s uniform, seemingly promoted while on patrol. There are still two episodes left. At this rate, by the end of the series he might even be an admiral.