MoD wanted to make Paras look less f ierce on TV

The Mail on Sunday - - News -

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.’

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