BBC bows to border tension, puts off 'Commando' premiere

BBC has indefinitely postponed the telecast of its innovative reality show Commando, which was to debut on the channel in the first week of January. 

The channel apparently feels the show is not in sync with the current tense atmosphere in the country, with war clouds looming low over the Indo-Pak border. Media reports quoting BBC World commissioning editor (Regions) Narendhra Morar say that the change in programming is in light of the current situation. "BBC World feels it inappropriate to telecast Commando at this point of time," he has been quoted as saying. The show was to have given viewers a unique access to the Indian army, although some details of the training have been deleted due to security reasons.

Commando was conceived as a fly on the wall 13-part docudrama, covering the six-week commando-training course at the Commando Training School in Belgaum, Karnataka, considered one of the toughest in the world. Commando was pitched to be much more real than programmes like Survivor and Temptation Island, which are more like game shows where a bunch of people are placed in a certain peculiar situation.

Morar had earlier described Commando as an "observatory series" where one can see junior officers trying their best to clear the grueling course so as to gain the coveted title of commando. The commando-training programme, spanning from 11 September to 20 October 2001, had been captured by the camera without any interference into the training.

The documentary follows the experiences of two pairs of officers - Captain Sanjay Singh Routela with his 'buddy' Rajith Unni and Lieutenant Dilip Jha with his buddy Lt Vivek Maudgil, who were among the 60 Army officers who took the course. Of the two protagonists, 24-year-old Capt Routela hails from a family of Army officers; he is a fourth-generation Army officer and has the distinction of having fought in the Kargil conflict in 1999. Twenty-three-year-old Lt Jha on the other hand is posted at a forward base on the Indo-Pak border. 

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