Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pick of the Night

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pick of the Night

Article excerpt


Escape to the Legion 9pm, Channel 4

WE HAVE had a whole troop of life-in-the-army challenge shows march across our screens in recent years, such as Bad Lad's Army and SAS: Are You Tough Enough? And this is another one in the same mould.

But the difference here is that presenter Bear Grylls (right - yes, that really is his name) and a squad of volunteers are getting knocked into shape by the French Foreign Legion - which has the reputation of being the most romantic, as well as the harshest, most cruel, army in the world.

We see the volunteers climbing massive sand dunes on their hands and knees in blistering sunshine, marching across the desert with rocks in their rucksacks and enduring sleep depravation. Not to mention having their heads shaved. It's hell.

Yet this is not the real French Foreign Legion. It's a pretend camp set up for television, but it is in a real desert and run by real ex-Foreign Legion psychopaths - er, sorry, officers. In fact, it's probably worse than the real thing, because these guys seem to have something to prove - especially Sgt Glenn Ferguson, a sadistic little bully. "We want to shape them into what we want them to be," he says about the recruits. "So obviously we have to And while putting the recruits through this gruelling misery he tries to inspire them with his great line: "Pain is just weakness leaving your body."

Hmmm. Never thought of it like that before.

And neither have the recruits. What they seem to be feeling, on the whole, is that they'd rather be back in England and down the pub, having the experience of sobriety leaving their body. And, indeed, one of them soon will be. Because a member of the gang quits on the first day.

As Grylls remarks: "It's a long way to come for a haircut."

Slaughterhouse: The Task of Blood

9.30pm, BBC2

Overlook the portentous title ("the task of blood" is from the slaughterman's oath), this is the most revealing, thought-provoking and haunting programme of the night.

It is also the most difficult to watch, as the cameras take us into a family owned abbatoir in Lancashire, to show what happens, in all its blood and gore.

There is, says filmmaker Brian Hill, a saying that if abbatoirs had glass walls, we'd all be vegetarians.

"Think of this film as a window on to a slaughterhouse and when it's over ask yourself: do I feel like eating meat again?"

The answer for many people will, I suspect, still be yes, because although the footage is gory and brutal, it is mostly no more than you would expect at an abbatoir. Plus, with much of it shot in black and white and set to piano music, there's an arty feel that distances the content. (However, watch out for the Kosher killings, where the animals are not stunned first. These are gruesome images to watch.) The programme profiles the men who carry out this grim, bloody and unpopular job. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.