The first programme has been aired. It always seems so strange when a film one has worked on for so long hits the airwaves - and then, suddenly, is over. A spent force. So much goes into making films, the usual blood, sweat and tears thing, that to see the final credits role at the end is like experiencing a sort of bereavement. Not sure I can fully explain this but filmmakers out there will know what I mean.
So, how has the first programme done? Did it reach the audience I was aiming at? Did it have the desired effect? Well, it did not reach as many as I had hoped - about 1.2 million (not including the audiences on Five plus one or the repeat last night at 23.00). I was hoping for something nearer two million but we were transmitting on a very competitive night. Whitechapel on ITV1 brought in a staggering 6.5 million. It will be interesting to see how many recorded my series to watch at a later date.
The audience the series did reach, however, does seem to be particularly responsive. Various websites show this - namely the military websites and the Channel Five one itself. I am hoping that this programme, and the ones to follow, will spark healthy debate over the Afghanistan question, our role in that country and the prospects for its future. I also hope that this series will go some way into explaining what it is really like out there for our soldiers as I have tried to adopt a much more intimate approach to the telling of that story. I hope, therefore it will appeal to a wider audience than just the military minded.
The powers that be (the Royal Marines top brass, the MoD and Government) are biding their time before revealing what they think of my portrayal of the boys on the front line. They are understandably nervous of such a personal portrait of warriors at work. I am urging them to keep the faith as I remain confident that the general public, who are not fools, will, through these films, come to appreciate even more the extraordinary work being done on our behalf in Afghanistan.
It is still too soon to properly evaluate the overall impact of this series as a piece of revelatory TV. The initial indications are good but there are still five weeks to go so I too must keep the faith.
All I can say is, if you have been watching please continue. If you have not - well it is not too late to start!