Raw Recruits: Squaddies at 16

Break Them Down, Build Them Up

Series 1 - Episode 1 Break Them Down, Build Them Up



Army recruit Lizzie Bray, 17 years old, from Crewe, is sitting her weapons handling test on the SA80 assault rifle. The corporal instructs her, “Strip your weapons system down for normal daily cleaning,” but Lizzie immediately looks fed up. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” she whines, sounding both stroppy and on the verge of tears.

And instead of bawling her out – the kind of thing we’re used to in military training TV – the corp coaxes her on, seeing her bolshiness as a lack of confidence. The nurturing approach is laudable, but it doesn’t make for the fireworks we look for in this kind of doc. Even so, the regime imposed on astonishingly young recruits makes for interesting viewing.


Documentary following 45 16- and 17-year-olds from around the country as they go through British Army basic training in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. On the first day the physical demands are high for the rookies as they are pushed to their limits with fitness assessments, and the teens are taught how to strip down a rifle correctly, as well as how to use their gas masks, before the platoon heads out for its first exercise.

Cast & Crew

Director Will Yapp
Executive Producer Clive Tulloh
Producer Gemma Delaney
Series Producer Will Yapp