Last Night’s TV – Girls on the Frontline

Whoever it was who thought it was a) a good idea to put the word ‘girls’ into a film about soldiers and b) wrote the introductory narration should be fired…

This film was about women going to war, but rather than instantly noting that they may never come back, the first part of the film was given to a jokey voiceover who told us that for these ‘girls’, their work in Afghanistan would mean, “no parties, no boyfriends, no make-up, and definitely no glamour.”

What?!

Thankfully, the film didn’t end with a narration along the lines of, “no arms, no legs, no face, and definitely no coming back to life.”

It was the sort of introductory narrative one might expect from Brat Camp or some kind of life-swap show, not from a film in which soldiers – irrespective of gender – may swap life as they know it for one where they’re hideously wounded or worse, dead.

However, once I got past my annoyance at the demeaning nature of the first breath of this film, it rapidly became a tale that was to be inspirational as well as involving. And as we got to know the main protagonists featured, they started to feel as though they’d make brilliant mates.

And they do, if we’re to judge by the camaraderie they demonstrated for this documentary. But equally as compelling – and refreshing – was the dearth of sexism in the battle zone. The male soldiers didn’t treat the female soldiers any differently, and for their part, the females did everything the males did…

From lugging packs that were their own body weight, to patrolling to putting up with not so nice rations and inhospitable environments; the ‘girls’ do exactly the same as the ‘boys’.

And aside from being an emotive film about soldiers serving in a war zone, irrespective of gender, the women featured in this film felt, as I mentioned earlier, like mates by the time it ended.

We saw and heard about their relationships, how their families coped with the worry of having a loved one fighting in a war zone, and also about those heart wrenching letters that soldiers write, with the instruction, ‘to be opened in the event of my death.’ It must be unimaginably hard to write those goodbye letters.

If you missed this film, you can catch it on BBC’s iPlayer, and if you can get past the first inappropriately sexist and downright stupid narration, you’ll find a very emotive and inspirational documentary.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.