The second episode of Royal Marines: Mission Afghanistan has been aired. It caused quite a reaction from the viewing public which was both gratifying and humbling. Gratifying because it seems to have struck a chord but humbling because so many people were genuinely very shocked and saddened by the revelation that Cply Paul Vice - "Vicey' - was so badly injured. The Channel Five website is inundated with messages of support and concern for Vicey and his family. The degree to which the programme seems to have saddened so many is a surprise even to me and I know Vicey himself is incredibly moved by the outpouring of emotions on his behalf throughout the UK.
For those that did not see the programme it focused on Vicey and the rest of Lima Company based at a remote British checkpoint in the insurgency infested area of Nad Ali North in Helmand Province. After a savage firefight that featured towards the end of the programme Vicey was seen to say that he thought that it was now so dangerous in that area - particularly because the growing problem of IEDs - that it was only a matter of "when" not "if" anyone got killed or injured. I then froze the image of this fresh faced young man and revealed that just weeks later he was blown up and suffered serious injuries to his "torso, legs and brain". The fact is that Vicey lost so much blood from a shrapnel wound to his neck that he "died" twice on the evacuating helicopter and, even through he was saved, he suffered brain damage due to lack of oxygen.
I have seen Vicey several times since he was brought back home. I can therefore report that he is getting better all the time although the devastating nature of his injuries means his recovery and convalescence will be long term rather than short term. I am following his progress on film and will report on his condition in the final episode of the series.
I return though to the spontaneous reaction of the viewing public to Vicey's injury. It is proof, if proof were needed, that the nation's TV watchers are not just mindless couch potatoes feeding on easy to watch junk reality shows, game shows and talent shows. I have been at this game for many years and have often despaired of the dumbing down of British TV - a process that has been accelerated by the proliferation of channels all vying for the viewer's attention. The response to Royal Marines: Mission Afghanistan has renewed my faith in the British TV viewer.
So, if you have been watching I thank you and if you are one of the many who took the trouble to Twitter about it or post your comments on Five's website - I thank you doubly.
The next in the series is aired tonight at 9pm.