The first of a long-awaited 6-part documentary series “The Warship: Tour of Duty” covering the Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group deployment (May-December 2021) will be broadcast on BBC Two and iPlayer on Sunday 22nd January 2023 at 9pm.
Film-maker Chris Terril was on board HMS Queen Elizabeth for the whole deployment given great freedom of access. The series is the third made by Terrill following “Britain’s Biggest Warship” which covered QE’s journey from shipyard to commissioning and her first overseas trip to the US for flying trials in 2018. A book “How to build an aircraft carrier” published in 2022 accompanies the first two series.
The new series follows the carrier and crew, including 350 US marines on the 20,000-mile round trip from Portsmouth to the South China Sea supported by destroyers, frigates and auxiliaries. Terrill told Televisual: “I have made many films on board Royal Navy warships but this series was the most exciting, surprising, challenging, and rewarding of my career. None of us on board returned home the same person who left. It has been my privilege to capture this life-changing deployment to share with viewers.”
The diverse ship’s company has an average age of just 24 and many of the sailors had never been to sea before. With 1,600 on board, the series focuses on a few representative individuals, from the most junior to the most senior. Events take place before the Ukraine war but were heavily impacted by COVID which curtailed many of the expected chances for runs ashore. The deployment was an opportunity to demonstrate the RN’s latest capabilities to allies and adversaries and was conducted against a backdrop of complex international tensions.
Of note in the trailer above is that the MoD has allowed the inclusion of official footage from the take-off accident that led to the loss of an F-35 jet on 17th November 2021. The footage was originally leaked online and those responsible were subsequently disciplined.
In the first of the episodes, each an hour in length, QE is shadowed by Russian ships in the Mediterranean, weapons are tested in preparation for what lies ahead and the ship makes her first port call in Sicily.
Our wider analysis of the deployment can be read here.
Great news — hope it generates some good publicity and political support for the Royal Navy!
It should , but unfortunately wont. In this day and age more trivial themes gather the media attention for weeks at a time.
I see already, this doco is only featured because they have footage of 3 Su-24 from Russian airforce buzz the carrier while in the eastern med. that too will a blip in the 24 hr media cycle
I agree. The documentaries on HMS Northumberland and HMS Duncan ridiculously sensationalised routine events to manufacture drama.
The one on HMS Trenchant was better as it showed a terrifically professional crew dealing with one serious problem after another trying to keep a knackered piece of kit which should have been replaced years ago operational.
Indeed, without having watched the series you can almost be sure of some of the likely themes that will feature for a game of RN documentary bingo.
1) New recruits talking about missing home and making grandparents proud
2) A couple of jokers who make silly comments and act up to the camera at every opportunity
3) Footage of fire drills
4) A disciplinary / court martial (likely on one of the jokers for breaking a curfew during a run ashore etc (Covid permitting)
5) Russian surveillance flyby (Much drama)
6) The usual range of size and capability statistics, ie buses, football pitches and tracking cricket balls from 200 miles away etc
7) Bit of drama about the oven breaking down ahead of the Trafalgar night meal
8) Visiting dignitaries having cocktails in various ports
9) Helicopter transfer (against the clock), for a rating to return to the birth of a first child
I hate sounding so cynical, the BBC could easily make a more serious show as they aren’t directly reliant on viewer ratings due to the way their funding is arranged.
Great Post. I wouldn’t bet against those!
Ahhh, I see you remember watching Sailor then !
Formulaic TV production. All MSM adopt this rather lazy approach to making programmes with the BBC being amongst the worst offenders. It allows them to ASSEMBLE output without actually having to make the effort to be creative or think seriously about the subject matter. The sad thing is that the BBC used to make GOOD TV. It no longer does. I for one shall not be watching this…..for that I would need a TV !
Some good tv shows on BBC iPlayer.
Tokyo Vice, yakuza crime series.
Repeat of Battlestar Galactic, sci-fi
David Attenborough, wildlife stuff.
Brian Cox, physicist.
But in this day, their being over 500 channels. Finding a program is hard.
I wish these streaming services would just have a master list of what they are showing.
lazy? you obviously know very little about program making. Or about human attention spans, or what people like. A boring MoD training video would attract no viewers. Well done Chris Terrell for a what looks like a quality show.
…didnt those relics called books have an ‘index’ once ?
You have lost me.
Werent you asking for a master list or index?
Youre computer savvy , surely you know about the 4 number codes netflix uses for its detailed genres, put the types you are interested in the right format in the search bar etc.
Yes. But I am thinking of those who are not as brilliant as me. And there are lot of you. Lots and lots and lots……. 🙂 😉
You may well be right on some of those predictions but this is a 6-hour documentary (with no ad breaks) which will permit a rather more in-depth view of a long and complex deployment than some past documentaries
as someone who was onboard, theres definitely 5 of those points, as for the last point im going to say no but there was a young man who lost a close relative before we even went operational and he wasnt allowed to leave because the Covid risk was to high
Ah, life on a warship in peacetime. It apparently has its annoyances, but let’s all be grateful for the relative peace that enables annoyances as opposed to mortal danger.
the show is not aimed at veterans or service personnel. It has to have a much wider appeal – a serious show, whatever that would include, would draw very little viewing support. as we all know 90-odd percent of the time onboard, bugger all happens of any significance. attention spans of people under 40 today are very, very limited.To be honest, a normal humdrum day to day – almost MoD training video would not get BBC funding, It’s as simple as that. And yes, viewer ratings do mean also mean a ,lot to the BBC.
Im a former FAA matelot, worked in media for 30 years, so can see how and why this was produced – for a much wider audience than jolly jack.
The trouble is there are lots of really interesting things that cannot be shown for operational reasons.
There are loads of things that are done every day that are simply too dull to show.
How do you strike a balance between showing the routine stuff and keeping an audience interested and not giving secrets away?
I must admit most of the T45 and T23 programs were quite dull to me. I didn’t like the editing / narration style at all. I used to do VO so I’m very aware of what is involved.
I’d still rather these programs were made as they broadcast our capability to the enemy and are a part of conventional deterrence.
I was a bit surprised at some of the shots of the T23 sonar as I was able to figure out who made the circuit boards and which precise models they were. That doesn’t sound like a lot of information but it does tell you what the hardware limitations of the systems are.
See USA has just selected Capitas 4 VDS as on their Constellation Class. Great for NATO harmonisation.
Linked loosely to deployment of CSGs in Asia/Pacific, I see Alex Hollings has recently released a YouTube video on the various US war games played out in defending Taiwan. Useful background deployment data.
The carrier was partly escorted by many navies, should be celebrated as show of intent by the democratic world.
Happy New Year to you all, I trust you all had a great time with Family and Friends ? rather than spending every waking hour on here ! Anyway, I’m really looking forward to watching this Series here in a rather wet Copenhagen. Cheers Phil.
Me too, Phil, unlike some of the moaning minnies on here!
More like moaning SUVs.
In the diary, bet channel 5 bit miffed they didn’t get the series.
Then again being 1 hour long episodes that could have meant 8 episodes instead on 6.
I heard a rumour that Channel 5 were looking to do a fly-on-the-wall in Stratcom. How they’ll manage to sensationlize that one enough, I have no idea.
No doubt they can time it to be present during a drill….missiles incoming , that sort of thing
I like the lead photo showing two F-35Bs coming into land on deck…very close spacing allowed by the final vertical landing on 2 different deck spots
Couldnt do it like that with cats and traps….a second plane would still be some km out on approach
why so many US marines and do we have royal marines on bard and how do they all get on.
Her air group was complemented by 10 USMC F35B’s. The US Marines would have been the pilots and ground crew for those aircraft. They all got on well. She was a happy ship apparently.
Yes . The US Marines have their own airforce. Around 85 F-35B/C active squadrons and around 30 in training units plus many other types.
Interestingly while they have the USN carrier capable F-35C and will operate within a CVW when deployed they have their own pilots and maintenance crew while on board. None of this silly FAA/RAF shared resources and squadrons.
Even Italy the services have their own F-35 types and maybe based and operate together.
Is this documentary, in any way, supposed to install any confidence in our forces? I can assure you it does not ! God help us.
Was it just me or did the last episode call the US latest Mark VI patrol boat a Second World War boat when they visited Guam. Maybe I just misheard.