MoD wanted to make Paras look less f ierce on TV
THE Ministry of Defence tried to censor a documentary about the Parachute Regiment – for fear that it made members of the elite regiment look too aggressive.
Whitehall mandarins pleaded with officers to curb their violent behaviour and foul language when cameras were filming them training their troops – but the battle-hardened veterans refused.
Defence chiefs also wanted to cut scenes in which Paras mocked troops from other regiments for not being as tough as them.
And the producers of ITV’s The Paras: Men Of War refused to tone down their programme, which showed instructors manhandling junior soldiers and screaming in their faces.
The scenes, seen by more than two million viewers, fly in the face of the MoD’s moves to soften the image of the Army and its current recruitment drive encouraging sensitive ‘snowflakes’ to enlist to plug shortages in troop numbers.
Para commanders ignored the mandarins’ requests, insisting their proven methods should be represented accurately on screen.
A Para source said: ‘We were asked by the MoD to tone it down a bit and cut down the intimidation but we were not going to change. Para selection has always been rough. People in other parts of the Army don’t always appreciate that.
‘If people watching at home on their TV sets are offended by that so be it, because people like them wouldn’t be any use to us. They’re not potential paratroopers.’
Thursday night’s opening episode showed an instructor grabbing a recruit by his collar during a march, while in another scene an instructor bawled at a man after he repeatedly failed to pack his kit properly.
Nick Betts, who produced the documentary for Avanti Media, added: ‘We would not sugar-coat the truth, even if that truth would occasionally be unpalatable.’
Last night, an Army spokesman said: ‘The Paras documentary shows the rigorous and rewarding training and selection process that all our recruits into the regiment must undertake.’