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One Of The Best Reality Shows But Sgt Ferguson Should Have Been The Star
The French Foreign Legion was established in 1831 . Because of legislation the previous year foreigners couldn't serve in the French military so the government decided to kill two birds with one stone of putting unwanted immigrants to work while maintaining a large empire . In doing so a legend was born . The FFL is the most enigmatic regiment in the world . It's a military force that is romanticised and talked about and written about . Reality gives way to myth but one thing is has always been known about the regiment - its military discipline is brutal . This reality series gives eleven men a chance to taste some of that discipline
This is both the strength and weakness of the show . In the show the recruits are given the chance to ring a bell in which case they're " jailed " in a cell for 24 hours before they're sent home where as in the Legion you're in for five years like it or not and if the real life discipline was enforced here as it is in the FFL then most of the recruits would leave on the first day . This means the NCOs - Chef Hauser , Sgt Ferguson and Cpl Sutter all former real life Legionaires pull their punches but not enough to stop one recruit , Terry a computer salesman from Edinburgh jacking it in on the first day
Of the three NCOs ' it's Sgt Glenn Ferguson who sticks out the most . He's a man of small stature who seems to have a grudge against the world because of it and who insists on making the recruits lives a misery . This isn't bullying of course - it's military doctrine to condition recruits in to being soldiers . Apart from serving several years in the Legion Sgt Ferguson had sevrved several years in the American airborne forces so he knows every trick in the book when soldiers aren't pulling their weight
This ties in with another strength from ESCAPE TO THE LEGION - the way it is structured . Episodes finish on a cliffhanger . One of the recruits Lee a 19 year old falls and injures his back and seems to be making a meal of it . This is intercut with talking head interviews of three former legionaries Eric Harding , Duncan Paisley and Simon Murray who give recounts of their own experiences of the FFL usually tales involving the violent discipline . Episode one finishes with Lee being discharged from hospital where the doctors find nothing wrong with him . Cut to Sgt Ferguson seething with sadistic rage at someone who is trying to pull a fast one on him
As with all these type of military reality shows once the recruits become more and more switched on to military service the less beastings are dished out by the NCOs which means the voyeuristic joy by the audience lessens . As I've already stated punches have to be pulled which means the recruits who sometimes answer back don't receive a savage kicking , though there is one amusing scene where Chef Hauser forces a recruit a keep a handful of pebbles in his mouth all day for giving lip to Cpl Sutter
All in all this is one of the better reality shows from a period of TV when all the channels seemed to be obsessed with giving everyone 15 minutes of fame . It's also the show that turned Bear Grylls in to a star but in my opinion it's Sgt Glenn Ferguson who should have become a big name
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