Soldier Soldier

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Soldier Soldier
Soldier soldier.jpg
Genre Military drama
Starring Robson Green
Jerome Flynn
plus others (see below)
Opening theme "Soldier Soldier"
No. of series 7
No. of episodes 82
Production
Running time 50 minutes
Production company(s) Central Independent Television
Distributor ITV Studios
Release
Original network ITV
Picture format 4:3
Audio format Stereo
Original release 10 June 1991 (1991-06-10) – 9 December 1997 (1997-12-09)

Soldier Soldier is a British television drama series. The title comes from a traditional song of the same name - "Soldier, soldier will you marry me, with your musket, fife and drum?" - an instrumental version of which was used as its theme music.

Created by Lucy Gannon, produced by Central Television and broadcast on the ITV network, it ran for a total of seven series and 82 episodes from 1991 to 1997. It featured the daily lives of a group of soldiers in 'B' Company, 1st Battalion The King's Fusiliers, a fictional British Army infantry regiment loosely based on the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. Set in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, it is a dramatisation of army life in the early to mid-1990s, when the British Army was undergoing significant change. This is perhaps best demonstrated during the third series, around 1994, when a significant number of real regiments were forced into amalgamations with one another due to downsizing of the army. Within the world of Soldier Soldier, the King's Fusiliers are forced to amalgamate with the Cumbrian Regiment, another fictional regiment, becoming the King's Own Fusiliers. At the time Soldier Soldier was broadcast, the fatality rate was low, with most casualties due to training accidents and suicides. The military as a whole was assigned to performing more peacekeeping missions than actually doing any fighting. As a consequence, the show served well to portray the army, despite the domestic problems that could occur, in a fairly good light.

Although many well known and not so well known actors appeared in Soldier Soldier over the period it was broadcast, perhaps the best known are Robson Green and Jerome Flynn, who portrayed Fusilier Dave Tucker and Sergeant Paddy Garvey respectively. It was their performance of "Unchained Melody" in an episode of the 4th series that propelled them to stardom, giving them several number one songs and a best selling album. At the end of the fifth season in 1995, both actors left the series. After a decline in viewing figures (following their departure) 1997 saw the decision to end the drama after 7 series.

TV presenter Chris Kelly wrote and produced some episodes of the series.[1]

Regular cast[edit]

Military personnel[edit]

Officers

Company Sergeant Majors

Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs)

Fusiliers

  • Robson Green as Fusilier (later briefly Lance Corporal) David "Dave" Tucker (Series 1-5)
  • Winston Crooke as Fusilier Joe Meakin (Series 1)
  • Mo Sesay as Fusilier Michael "Midnight" Rawlings (Series 2-3)
  • Akim Mogaji as Fusilier Luke Roberts (Series 3)
  • David Groves as Fusilier Joe Farrell (Series 4-6)
  • Paterson Joseph as Fusilier Eddie Nelson (Series 4)
  • Simon Sherlock as Fusilier Mel Briggs (Series 5-6)
  • Danny Cunningham as Fusilier Andy Butcher (Series 5-7)
  • Thomas Craig as Fusilier Jacko Barton (Series 7)
  • Chris Gascoyne as Fusilier Tony Rossi (Series 7)

Attached Arms

  • John McGlynn as Major James McCudden (Series 4)
  • Lucy Cohu as Major Jessica Bailey AGC (Series 7)
  • Richard Hampton as Reverend Simon Armstrong CF RAChD (Series 1-2)
  • Lesley Vickerage as Second Lieutenant (later Lieutenant and then Captain) Kate Butler (later Voce) AGC (Series 2-4)
  • Sophie Dix as Captain Sadie Williams RAMC (Series 5)
  • Biddy Hodson as Second Lieutenant Samantha Sheridan AGC (Series 6)
  • Fiona Bell as Sergeant Angela McCleod AGC (Series 6-7)
  • Holly Aird as Corporal (later Sergeant) Nancy Thorpe (later Garvey, then Thorpe, then Garvey) RMP (Series 1-3, 5)
  • Kate O'Malley as Private Stacey Grey (later Butcher) RLC (Series 6-7)

Civilians[edit]

Episodes[edit]

Regiment[edit]

The King's Own Fusiliers
King'sfusiliers.JPG
Cap badge of the King's Own Fusiliers
Active 1993-
Country United Kingdom
Branch Army
Type Line Infantry
Role Air Assault Infantry
(at end of series)
Size One battalion
Part of King's Division
Garrison/HQ 1st Battalion - Aldershot
(at end of series)
Motto(s) Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense (Shamed Be He Who Thinks Ill Of It)
Insignia
Hackle Blue over White
From King's Fusiliers

The King's Own Fusiliers, originally the King's Fusiliers, is the infantry regiment portrayed in the series. Like all fusilier regiments, both the "King's" and the "King's Own" wear a hackle in its head-dress; this is coloured dark blue over white. During the third season of Soldier Soldier, which took place during the Options for Change military reforms, the King's Fusiliers was forced to amalgamate with another regiment, "The Cumbrians (Duke of Rutland's Own)". During negotiations with the commanding officer of the other reigment to be merged (over which customs and traditions should be carried over to the new regiment), attempts were made by the Cumbrians to keep the new regiment as an ordinary infantry regiment, rather than a fusilier regiment (which would also see the loss of the King's hackle). However, research by the regimental commander of the King's Fusiliers (LtCol Osbourne) found that, during the Cumbrians [fictional] service in the Crimea, the Cumbrians had worn the hackle and served as fusiliers for 6 months in honour of the fusiliers that had served alongside them. As a result, the new regiment was named the "King's Own Fusiliers".

The cap badge of the King's Own Fusiliers features the lion surmounting the crown, which is the recognised symbol of the British Army, within the band of the Order of the Garter. Surmounting the garter band is the traditional flame that indicates a fusilier regiment. (Co-incidentally, in series 1 episode 2 of Red Cap, the Royal Cambrian Fusiliers wore the same cap badge and hackle as the King's Own Fusiliers).

Role[edit]

As an ordinary infantry battalion, the King's Fusiliers/King's Own Fusiliers was in the arms plot rotation, and thus participated in a number of different roles:

During its time in Windsor, in addition to other duties, the King's Own Fusiliers provided the guard at Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and Windsor Castle.

Recruiting area[edit]

As the King's Fusiliers / King's Own Fusiliers has no geographical location in its name, it can only be speculated what recruiting area it represents. In early episodes, the senior officers discuss the possibility of being amalgamated with other regiments from the Midlands. During Series 1, the possibility of merging or disbanding regiments is discussed, and at that point, the Cumbrians and the Rutlands are expected to be amalgamated. During the final episode of series 2, the regiment's commanding officer announces orders for the King's Fusiliers to form a new 'Midlands Regiment' along with the Cumbrians and the Rutlands (though in later episodes, the other regiment to be merged is referred to as The Cumbrians (Duke of Rutland's Own).

Other anecdotal references in the series also point to the regiment's location being in the Midlands include the use of a midland's commercial radio station being played by various characters (BRMB) and local (specifically Birmingham) telephone area code on signage and vehicles. However, given that the series was made in the Midlands by the 'Central Films' division of Central Television, these local references can be expected.

Commanding officers[edit]

  • 1st Battalion, King's Fusiliers
    • Lt Colonel D. Fortune (1991–1992) (Miles Anderson (Series 1 & 2)) A mild mannered man who is nonetheless a firm disciplinarian. Fortune is a widower (having lost (off-screen) his first wife to cancer). Between the 1st & 2nd series, he meets and then (in series 2) marries a journalist (Rachel Fortune (nee Elliot)). After receiving orders for the regiment to be amalgamated, he decides to retire from the Army.
    • Lt Colonel M. Osbourne (1992–1993) (Patrick Drury (Series 3)) Succeeding Lt Col Fortune, his command of the regiment mainly occurs during the time off-screen between series (only appearing in 3 episodes of series 3). After helping negotiate the regimental merger, he resigns his commission in order to spend more time with his daughter.
  • 1st Battalion, King's Own Fusiliers
    • Lt Colonel N. Hammond (1993–1994) (Robert Gwilliem (Series 3)) A keen and ambitious officer, who takes command of the new King's Own Fusiliers during their posting in Germany. A no nonsense man who makes his mark by having LCpl Tucker demoted for bringing the regiment into disrepute. After taking the regiment to Bosnia on NATO peacekeeping duties, he hands over control to Lt Col Jennings.
    • Lt Colonel I. Jennings (1994–1995) (John Bowe (Series 4)) Jennings assumes command from Hammond upon the regiment's return from Bosnia. His first task being the presentation of the UN Medals. The major assignment being the regiments relocation from Munster in Germany to Windsor. Also the Regiment is assigned to Public Duties Guarding locations such as Buckingham Palace and The Tower of London.
    • Lt Colonel P. Philips (1995–1996) (Duncan Bell (Series 5))
    • Lt Colonel M. Eastwood (1996–1997) (Philip Bowen (Series 6))
    • Lt Colonel P. Drysdale (1997-) (James Cosmo (Series 7))

Fictional regiments featured in Soldier Soldier[edit]

  • The King's Fusiliers (later the King's Own Fusiliers)
  • The Cumbrians (Duke of Rutland's Own) - amalgamates with the King's Fusiliers
  • The Malvern Regiment - exercises with the King's Fusiliers during their time in Germany

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]