CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews the weekend’s TV: A marine saved by Mail readers

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CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews the weekend’s TV: A marine saved by Mail readers

War And Justice: The Case Of Marine A (C4)Rating: Extreme Heights Repair Team (Dave)Rating: Was Panorama’s production team watching? And did they squi

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War And Justice: The Case Of Marine A (C4)

Rating:

Extreme Heights Repair Team (Dave)

Rating:

Was Panorama’s production team watching? And did they squirm with shame to see sensitive, balanced, unbiased reporting in action?

Last month’s scurrilous BBC1 attack on British special forces in Afghanistan was a catalogue of unsubstantiated smears. Even the title was prejudicial: ‘SAS Death Squads Exposed: A British War Crime?’

In complete contrast, War And Justice: The Case Of Marine A (C4) carefully examined the case of Sgt Alexander Blackman, accused of murder on the battlefield, and allowed viewers to make up their own minds.

Sgt Alexander Blackman was accused of murder on the battlefield

Sgt Alexander Blackman was accused of murder on the battlefield

Sgt Alexander Blackman was accused of murder on the battlefield

War reporter Chris Terrill summarised the role of the Royal Marines: ¿They were there to draw fire, the red rag to the Taliban bull ¿ human bait to invite the attack.¿

War reporter Chris Terrill summarised the role of the Royal Marines: ¿They were there to draw fire, the red rag to the Taliban bull ¿ human bait to invite the attack.¿

War reporter Chris Terrill summarised the role of the Royal Marines: ‘They were there to draw fire, the red rag to the Taliban bull — human bait to invite the attack.’

Many Mail readers already knew exactly what they thought. It was a travesty that the Royal Marines veteran was in jail after being placed in a challenging position during combat. The Mail’s forthright campaign raised £810,000 for the legal appeal that won him freedom. His voice cracked as he expressed his gratitude for your generosity.

Video images from J Company’s patrol’s headcams, in the opium-poppy fields of Helmand in 2011, cannot be screened. But the audio was so graphic that every detail was imprinted on the mind’s eye.

After a U.S. Apache helicopter chased down two Taliban terrorists, raking the fields with hundreds of machine gun rounds, Sgt Blackman and his men were sent in. War reporter Chris Terrill summarised the role of the Royal Marines: ‘They were there to draw fire, the red rag to the Taliban bull — human bait to invite the attack.’

To prosecute Sgt Blackman for his decision, taken in the heat of battle, was a twisted piece of legal logic

To prosecute Sgt Blackman for his decision, taken in the heat of battle, was a twisted piece of legal logic

To prosecute Sgt Blackman for his decision, taken in the heat of battle, was a twisted piece of legal logic

War And Justice: The Case Of Marine A allows viewers to make their own mind up about the case

War And Justice: The Case Of Marine A allows viewers to make their own mind up about the case

War And Justice: The Case Of Marine A allows viewers to make their own mind up about the case

One of the enemy fighters was mortally wounded but alive. The British troops faced a bitter dilemma. If they summoned medics to evacuate the dying man, insurgents might attack the helicopter with rocket-propelled grenades.

Sgt Blackman despatched the Afghan with a shot to the chest. He knew he was in breach of the Geneva Convention — but the alternative was to let him bleed to death.

Minutes earlier, U.S. air crew had fired more than 300 armour-piercing bullets at the two enemy fighters toting AK47s who had attacked an Army outpost. While technically not unarmed, their weapons might as well have been peashooters against a helicopter gunship. That’s war.

Sgt Blackman came across as a resilient, honest man, but the real heroine was his campaigning wife Claire

Sgt Blackman came across as a resilient, honest man, but the real heroine was his campaigning wife Claire

Sgt Blackman came across as a resilient, honest man, but the real heroine was his campaigning wife Claire

To prosecute Sgt Blackman for his decision, taken in the heat of battle, was a twisted piece of legal logic — or, as novelist Frederick Forsyth put it, ‘as bent as a corkscrew’. Trying to straighten out the complexities, this documentary flipped back and forward in time, occasionally tying itself in knots. Dates flashed up on a board like a railway timetable, but it would have been better to set out the events in chronological order.

Sgt Blackman came across as a resilient, honest man, but the real heroine was his campaigning wife Claire. ‘I came to see this as a real love story,’ said lawyer Jonathan Goldberg. ‘Without Claire he would still be rotting in prison.’ And, very probably, without the Mail’s readers too.

Abseiling steeplejack and forces veteran Eric Phillips described his work, on Extreme Heights Repair Team (Dave), as ‘kinda like what I was doing in the military but not getting shot at’.

Forces veteran Eric Phillips on Extreme Heights Repair Team and his crew¿s work, as they rappelled down the 645ft concrete wall of New Bullards dam in California, was accompanied by ominous electronic rumblings and a breathless voiceover.

Forces veteran Eric Phillips on Extreme Heights Repair Team and his crew¿s work, as they rappelled down the 645ft concrete wall of New Bullards dam in California, was accompanied by ominous electronic rumblings and a breathless voiceover.

Forces veteran Eric Phillips on Extreme Heights Repair Team and his crew’s work, as they rappelled down the 645ft concrete wall of New Bullards dam in California, was accompanied by ominous electronic rumblings and a breathless voiceover.

U.S. documentaries do love to exaggerate the machismo of their subjects. Even a film about the mating cycle of the dormouse is bound to be flammed up into a epic tale of sex and savagery.

Eric and his crew’s work, as they rappelled down the 645ft concrete wall of New Bullards dam in California, was accompanied by ominous electronic rumblings and a breathless voiceover.

‘That’s one of those moments that take about a year off your life,’ gasped narrator Trask Bradbury, as a metal hook creaked slightly. The more he urged us to be thrilled, the duller it got.

Source: | Dailymail.co.uk

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