The Not Dead (4 stars)

The Not Dead

Channel 4, Mon 12 Nov, 9pm


There’s always a danger that with the constant barrage of rolling news coverage, dramas and documentaries that we may become immune to the horrors of the world, particularly the terror of warfare. But while there are individuals with the raw talent of filmmaker Brian Hill and poet Simon Armitage around, there’s every chance that we will never be allowed to get too blasé about the realities of military conflict.

The pair have previously collaborated on Feltham Sings and Pornography: The Musical in which, variously, young offenders and sex workers told their stories through interviews and songs. But it must have been too much of a stretch to ask three post-traumatic stress disordered soldiers to exercise their vocal chords, and instead Armitage puts his own poetic take on events into the mouths of three very troubled men.

Rob has been in constant bother with the law ever since returning from Iraq, drowning out the memories with drink and drugs. While he may believe that all this mental torment will end one day, Cliff’s story is unlikely to be a comfort. Aged 78, he has spent the last 50 years suffering night terrors after the bloody slaughter he witnessed in Malaya. And Eddie was a blue-capped UN peace-keeper in Bosnia who had to stand by and watch as ethnic cleaning carried on around him. The scars he carries now are both physical and mental. Fighting in wars is one thing, but trying to fit back into society afterwards is quite another, and with moving testimony and stark footage, these stories will embed themselves in your mind like a lodged bullet.

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