Gulf War veteran Colonel Tim Collins has criticised an episode of a BBC One drama set on the front line as irresponsible and a “desperate” attempt to “shock”.
Accused, penned by Bafta-winning TV dramatist Jimmy McGovern whose credits include Cracker and The Street, features six prime-time dramas about crime and punishment.
The second episode, which stars Mackenzie Crook as “maverick and bully” Corporal Buckley, sees two friends join the British Army and discover in Afghanistan that not obeying orders has deadly consequences.
Col Collins, who gained worldwide fame for his eve-of-battle address to his men in the Royal Irish Regiment, criticised the episode, to be broadcast next Monday, for its “generous lashings of gratuitous violence” and “constant and slightly contrived use of foul and abusive language”.
He told the Radio Times that the BBC drama “abjectly fails” the “responsibility test” and “fails the soldiers on the front line”.
Viewers saw “non-commissioned officers run a camp that has more in common with Second World War Japan than modern-day Afghanistan”, said Col Collins, who retired from the British Army in 2004.
He told the magazine: “The constant and slightly contrived use of foul and abusive language and the generous lashings of gratuitous violence all add up to a desperate plea to be seen as shocking and cutting edge.
“The actors don’t seem convinced of the whole proposition. And I don’t blame them. Having served in the British Army for 23 years I can unequivocally say that this has absolutely no basis in … reality.”
In the war zone, “thugs in what appear to be a representation of British Army uniforms slug it out with insurgents who are hammed up like extras from a Hollywood spoof movie,” he said.
Col Collins criticised a scene in which a character, who is bullied and labelled “the bitch”, has a bucket of human excrement thrown over him, as “unthinkable” and “offensive”.