Gary: Tank Commander is a BAFTA-award winning sitcom written and created by Greg McHugh and produced by the Comedy Unit. The show originated in 2008 as a one-off pilot for More4, under the title Gary's War. A full series was subsequently commissioned and broadcast on BBC Two Scotland in December 2009, moving to BBC One Scotland for the second series in January 2011. Originally broadcast in Scotland only, it was announced in 2011 that the series would receive a UK-wide screening on BBC Three in the summer of the same year. The series is also available to view throughout the United Kingdom on BBC iPlayer and has been released on DVD. Written by Greg McHugh, he also stars as the lead role, Gary McLintoch (the tank commander), a Corporal in the fictional 104th Royal Tank Regiment of the British Army. Gary was originally modelled on a close friend of the director, who was born in Callander in Scotland. He was in the forces and was the first British casualty of the first Gulf War.
The stories revolve around Gary's life in the British Army after his deployment to an operational theatre, Iraq in the first series and Afghanistan in the second. He is given menial tasks by his unforgiving Sergeant and tries to cope as best as possible with the situations that arise while having a good time with his mates.
Filming locations have included East Kilbride TA Centre, Walcheren Barracks in Maryhill, Garelochhead Training Camp and the drill hall of the Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities Officer Training Corps. As well as Clydebank as the "town centre" in episodes 1 and 3. A location in Kirkintilloch was also used for the Iraq Army Camp scenes throughout the first series.
The second series was filmed at East Kilbride TA Centre, Maryhill and Cambuslang's Dechmont ranges. Film locations also included the small village of Milton of Campsie, most notably the old railway line, where Gary's mother's ashes were to be scattered.
There was some concern that the way the show portrays soldiers of the British Army may cause offence to the people of Scotland. Writer/actor Greg McHugh dismisses these worries saying "We hear lots about the death of troops, sadly, but we never hear about the more human side or the lighter side."
These concerns did prove to be unfounded and the programme was re-commissioned by the BBC and returned for a second series just over a year after the end of the first.
The original pilot was filmed as a mockumentary, with interviews, archive news material, YouTube-style video clips and fly on the wall footage following Gary on his return home from Iraq. For the subsequent series, the show moved towards a more traditional sitcom format, although retained the use of interspersed interviews and video clips.
Each episode has a few interview style scenes where Gary is talking to an unseen, unheard interviewer about something mentioned in the episode. These are usually just some of his idle thoughts and do little to further the plot; although they do help viewers to understand Gary. Occasional words or phrases (but rarely complete sentences) are subtitled in these interviews for emphasis. These subtitles often make use of subtle Kinetic typography.
At the start of each episode, and a couple of times throughout, are YouTube-style video clips (complete with time bar) showing the soldiers and their antics whilst in Iraq (series one) or Afghanistan (series two). These are usually completely independent of the episode's plot but display the soldiers' sense of humour and perhaps boredom of being cooped up in theatre away from friends and family.
Most of the main characters, especially Gary, occasionally use Scots when speaking. This is used in the programme to give rise to some humorous situations. One most obvious example was in the third episode, where the visiting American General tried and failed to appropriately use the Scots word ken (know).
The use of Scots is not so strong as to prevent understanding by all English-speaking viewers.
- Gary's insistence on answering the phone pretending to be some other company, with the caller frequently thinking they could have rung a wrong number.
- The Officer Commanding's inability to finish a sentence or remember names.
- Sgt Thomson sucking-up to the Officer Commanding.
- Gary's inability to get some crude jokes involving certain swear words.
- Julie's dodgy driving ability.
|Greg McHugh||Gary McLintoch||Corporal|
|Scott Fletcher||Charlie Smith||Trooper|
|Robert Jack||Jacko Jackson||Lance-Corporal|
|Paul-James Corrigan||Adam Kenning||Trooper|
|Leah MacRae||Julie Jackson||Bakery worker||Jacko's sister|
|Stuart Bowman||Sergeant Thomson||Sergeant|
|Miles Jupp||Sebastian Fanshaw||Captain||The Officer Commanding|
|Callum Cuthbertson||Martin McLintoch||Gary's father|
|Antony Strachan||Chef||Mess Chef|
List of episodesEdit
Fresh back from a tour of duty in Iraq, Sgt Gary McLintoch returns to the Edinburgh housing estate he grew up in, as he recollects events from Iraq and gives his own unique take on the build-up to and aftermath of the Iraq War.
Series One (2009)Edit
Episode 1: Be the Best
Gary returns from Iraq one day late after missing his connecting flight from Cyprus and immediately gets posted to a recruiting stand in Clydebank shopping centre. While he takes a break, Julie, Jacko's sister and the only person to welcome him back at the airport, comes looking for him and inadvertently signs up to join the army.
Episode 2: Green Gods
The fire brigade goes on strike and the Army have to step in as a stop-gap using out-of-date equipment. They long for the excitement of a call-out to break the monotonous job and test their firefighting abilities, but find it is their people skills which are not up to the task.
Episode 3: The General
A US Army general visits under the pretext of examining the British Army in barracks, but is more interested in a free holiday and tracing his assumed Scottish roots.
Episode 5: In the Field
Gary agrees to help his father by buying a cooker for him and collecting it in the tank whilst on exercise. Despite the show's name, this is the first appearance of the tank (actually an Abbot) which Gary commands.
Series Two (2011)Edit
Episode 1: Checkout
The squad are returning from Afghanistan but miss their flight. This is the only episode in both series to be set outside Scotland.
Episode 2: Tank Goodness
While transporting a tank back to the barracks, the boys defy orders by stopping off at a service station for a bit of breakfast, only to find the tank missing when they finish. A frantic search ensues.
Episode 3: Too Many Chefs
Gary and the boys must help prepare an important dinner for the Captain, exasperated by a drunk Sergeant Thompson.
Episode 4: Mum's The Word
Gary and his Father are finding a suitable place to scatter the ashes of his mother.
Episode 6: Star Wars
Gary and his team take part in an audition to be the faces of an army recruiting advert to get out of a stores-check. But all does not go smoothly.
Episode 1: Betta Shape Up
Gary needs to stop his addiction to chips.
Episode 2: Good Exercise
Gary does training and has to clean out the captains pee.
Episode 3: Bad Cammy
Gary gets scammed when the evil Cammy returns.
Episode 4: The Big Cuts Are The Biggest
The barracks is getting reviewed and it's all up to Gary to fix it.
Episode 5: Achtung Charlie
Charlie is getting married and no-one is happy apart from Gary.
Episode 6: Spooky Dooky
It's haloween and Gary gets a spooky fortune telling that starts to come true.
- Format - Sitcom
- Runtime - approx. 30 minutes
- Company - The Comedy Unit
- Starring - Greg McHugh
- Country - Scotland
- Language - English, some Scots
- Network - BBC Scotland (both BBC1 & BBC2)
- First_aired - October 21st, 2009
- Last_aired - Present
- Number ofseries - 2
- Number of episodes - 13
- Website - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00p1mbd
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