After months of careful negotiation, BFBS Television were granted unique access to film the elite Parachute Regiment’s 28-week training course, the first time cameras had been allowed in for 30 years. The seven part documentary series PARA Platoon: Earning the Maroon Beret was commissioned by the new satellite channel Forces TV as their flagship series for their hard launch. The series had to be fair, balanced and truthful. It was also imperative, for the future success of Forces TV, that PARA Platoon had broad appeal and could be enjoyed by a ‘civvie’ audience as much as a military one.
Forces TV’s clear ambition was to appeal to as large an audience as possible and not simply offer a new bespoke channel for the military. With its service available on Sky, Virgin and Freesat, it knew, and was excited, that a potentially large civilian audience could be watching. The series, therefore, had to appeal to everyone and not come across as ‘specialist’. It was also the launch documentary series for this new channel. That said, the military would still be watching and the producer had to ensure the series was accurate and credible in their eyes.
Measures of Impact and Effectiveness
PARA Platoon kicked off positively with pre-transmission publicity articles in the Daily Mail, The Big Issue, Metro and Zoo Magazine. The opening episode achieved the viewing figures the channel had hoped for and by its second week Forces TV enjoyed a weekly reach of 600,000. The series proved especially successful online. The Forces TV PARA Platoon webpage has been viewed over 100,000 times; related articles have had almost 200,000 reads; and, incidentally, the Army’s recruitment website saw over 100,000 logging in to discuss the series. It has been a successful, high profile launch for Forces TV.