Home U.K Royal Navy fears inaccuracies in BBC drama Vigil will cause a dive...

Royal Navy fears inaccuracies in BBC drama Vigil will cause a dive in recruitment


Vigil: Crew panic as submarine almost hits tanker boat

With its blend of intrigue, crime and corruption, the show — from the makers of Line Of Duty — has hooked fans but has also been hit by a huge wave of criticism.

One military source said last night: “The key thing is the negative way officers and ratings have been portrayed. That is very far from the truth. Who would join the Royal Navy given this cast of scheming, incompetent and ill-disciplined characters?”

However, the show’s executive producer and lead director James Strong said experts were called in to make it realistic.

He said: “We worked incredibly hard with that but it’s a drama, not a documentary.

BBC's Vigil drama

Drama: Suranne Jones starring in Vigil, which has been criticised for inaccuracies (Image: BBC / World Productions)

“We had an ex-submariner who was on set to make sure people were behaving in the way they would, the protocols of being a submariner.

“We also made the whole show without the overt co-operation of the Royal Navy because this is a secret vessel so we had to dig into the real memories of ex-submariners. Our submarine is close to the Ohio-class US submarine.

“Pool that together and it’s a pretty accurate picture.”

Apparent “inaccuracies” have included using the wrong helicopter and uniforms.

One military source said: “Many would be astounded to learn that there was a former submariner on set, given the inaccuracies.

It would be wonderful to think that Vigil could come back for another story. The tension between the police and the military is a fertile place for drama

James Strong

“Some things such as the orange tubes [holding torpedoes] and cavernous interior might be forgiven since the MoD declined to co-operate.

“Others, such as inaccuracy with uniforms and using a yellow RAF Sea King, less so.”

A Ministry of Defence source said: “James Strong is right about our level of co-operation and I agree, senior officers don’t come out of it well.

“But it’s only episode three tonight – who knows, they might get it right by the end.”

Former Met detective and Manhunt host Peter Bleksley is also unimpressed. He said: “When you have a lead detective who’s investigating a crime on what’s believed to be a submarine, and this is a detective who has lost family members through drowning… do me a favour. Is that the best you’ve got? It has no anchor in reality, no pun intended.”

Mr Strong brushed off the criticism and said he hopes the show can challenge the likes of Line Of Duty.

Vigil has already scored in the ratings department, drawing more than five million to the first episode as it follows Suranne Jones’s DCI Amy Silva investigating the death of a submariner.

Among other stars are Duty’s Martin Compston and Luther actress Rose Leslie.

Martin Compston

Line of Duty’s Martin Compston plays navy officer Craig Burke in Vigil (Image: Getty)

Mr Strong suggested makers World Productions, which also does Line Of Duty, would be keen to further develop the thriller into a multi-series blockbuster like its stablemate.

Currently, fans of Line Of Duty, set around the police corruption unit AC-12, are still waiting to hear whether there will be another series.

Mr Strong said: “Just like Line Of Duty, Vigil is brilliant and popular.

“Line Of Duty is set within the world of police corruption, whereas we’ve got the backdrop of the military, the Navy and also the police.

Line of Duty

Will Vigil follow the steps, with six series, of police corruption drama Line of Duty? (Image: BBC / World Productions)

“Both shows share a police procedural DNA, brilliant plotting and storylining. It’s a real skill to tell a very complicated story, not for the audience to go, ‘I’m lost and confused’, but still have complexity, nuance and character – telling a mystery without losing an audience.”

Asked if Vigil could run to six series like Line Of Duty, he replied: “Yes, I think it could. It would be wonderful to think that Vigil could come back for another story. The tension between the police and the military is a fertile place for drama.”

Vigil, BBC One, tonight, 9pm

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