Documentary series following 30 bad lads over a four-week period as they go through army basic training 1950s style.




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Series cast summary:
Joe Murray ...
 Corporal Murray 32 episodes, 2002-2006
Richard Nauyokas ...
 Corporal Nauyokas 26 episodes, 2002-2006
Allistair Rae ...
 Platoon Sergeant Rae 22 episodes, 2004-2006
Timothy Weston ...
 Provost Sergeant Weston 13 episodes, 2005-2006


In this reality show, a military training facility 1950s style has been reconstructed and several professional soldiers were extensively trained in the period's style as Montgomery platoon's commanding officer, CSM Glen Thomas, drill sergeant, provost sergeant, PE instructor and section corporals, and on Sunday an Anglican padre. There thirty volunteering 'bad lads' aged 18 to 24, mostly with criminal records, are to pass the period's standard four weeks training course which recruits were routinely given in the Fifties. It's a grim life from another age, when 'boys' were generally expected to 'take like a man' constant discomfort, verbal abuse and even utter humiliation without cringing or protesting. Today's bad lads have the option to leave without being hunted down as deserters, and a few do even in the first days... Written by KGF Vissers

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Release Date:

July 2002 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Bad Lads Army  »

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Many of the enlisted non commissioned ranks were drawn from ex army sergeant majors with experience in respective Army corps such as the Royal Logistics Corp, Grenadier Guards, Parachute Regiment and the TA. See more »


Referenced in Screenwipe: Episode #5.4 (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

Very Entertaining But Very Pointless Too
29 August 2004 | by See all my reviews

Conscription was introduced in Britain at the start of the Second World War. It differs entirely from the American draft system since there was criteria for young American men not having to register for the draft like attending university etc . Conscription was different - Even if you had a place at university at age 18 you still had to do two years in the forces and even when the war ended Britain still used conscription up to 1960 when it was the only European country along side the Republic of Ireland to have a professional volunteer army .

BAD LADS ARMY is the follow up series to the 2002 reality show LADS ARMY of having a bunch of recruits experience 1950s national service except now the volunteers are petty crooks , thieves and wasters . This is the problem with conscript armies and why the most vocal opponents of conscription in this country are the military themselves , it`s difficult to make soldiers out of people who don`t want to be soldiers but by jove coporals Nauyokas and Murray give it a damn good try .

Cpl Nauyokas is given the short straw since he has Luke Brown in his squad . Brown is the sort of idiot who thinks he`s hard and it`s plain to see that he went on the show so he could play to the gallery and show off how tough he is . If he`s so hard then why did he volunteer to leave after a few days ? That`s because he`s a coward at heart and is the type of person not even the Iraqi army of the Saddam era would want . He might have a big mouth but that`s always the sign of a small heart and is proof that the present day British army have got it right by being vocal critics of conscription . Actually there is smug satisfaction in seeing all the loud mouthed recruits who thought they were tough on their first day all end up leaving the camp because they couldn`t hack it

Despite the compelling nature there are a few problems with the show . First of all since it`s broadcast so close to the watershed the first half of the show has all the swearing bleeped out which means we see Cpl Murray reprimanding recruits with " Dont BEEP answer me back . I`ll BEEP tell you who`s BEEP doing what to who " . I don`t know why the broadcasting standards have a problem with the language , like I said the show is broadcast after the 9 pm watershed . Another problem is that because of the nature of military training the episodes become less sadistic as the series goes on , recruits start becoming more switched on hence the NCOs have less punishment to dish out . I`m sure all former servicemen will agree with me when I say the worst day of basic training is the second day . I`m also sure all former servicemen will agree that when someone is beasted it`s so very funny as a spectator sport . Not so funny when it happens to you of course

Perhaps my major criticism with the series is that while it`s so watchable it is pointless at the end of the day . Several of the recruits of BAD LADS ARMY were so impressed with the experiment that they are now planning on applying to the present day British army . Good for them I say , but they`ve got a choice . Men in their late teens in the 1940s and 50s had absolutely no choice and when they completed their four weeks basic training ( Present day British army basic training is much longer . Depending on the regiment it`s 10 weeks minimum ) they could find themselves facing terrorists in Palestine , Malaya , Cyprus or facing armies of nation states in Korea or Egypt . But I guess sending the BAD LADS ARMY recruits to Basra for a few months would be taking reality TV too far

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