Our Favourite Small Screen Soldiers

Watching Soldier Soldier got us thinking – who’ve been our all-time top military men to proudly serve on our TV screens? There may be a few surprises…

Soldier Soldier


Well, of course these likely lads were going to be included. Take a bow, Dave Tucker and Paddy Garvey, the dynamic duo/troublesome two-some of Soldier Soldier. Forever stumbling into all kinds of scrapes, the two best mates carry on like overgrown schoolboys on the run from a stern headteacher. A quintessential Paddy and Dave moment is the time they sneak back to barracks after a cheeky night on the town, literally clambering over beds and falling on top of each other (eat your hearts out, Laurel and Hardy) before being given a panic attack by a snake in Dave's bed (except it's actually a bit of hosepipe).

Of course, what makes them much more than just a couple of lovable fools is how they also tug at our heartstrings. Their poignant version of Unchained Melody remains the single most famous moment in the show, but special mention also has to go to Paddy's rocky relationship with Nancy. They're the Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor of Soldier Soldier, and we'll never forget the moment Paddy faces Nancy after she's already living with another man, and tells her: "I tried to forget you, you know. I tried girls, I tried medals, promotions, drink. But I still love you. Even if you walk down the aisle with Mr Sports Car Man and have 15 babies, I'd still love you." Sob.


A household name he may not be, but Reg Farrier is one of the most dashing, heroic, charming, all-round ridiculously gallant soldiers we've ever spent quality time with. He appears in Catherine Cookson's The Wingless Bird, and initially comes across as a bit of a stiff. Raised in an aristocratic family, and looking like he's just stepped out of an army recruitment poster, he has the air of someone who does his casual grocery shopping in Harrods or Fortnum & Mason. But don't be fooled. Beneath that reserved façade lies a whirlpool of emotions.

Emotions that are stirred up by the appearance of beautiful Agnes, a lowly shopgirl who catches the eye of Reg's brother, Charles. Being a gent, Reg doesn't make his own feelings clear, and actually does his best to encourage them to tie the knot despite the tutting disapproval of his own family. See, Reg is a proper old romantic after all. And he stays that way even when he's traumatised by the horrors of World War One, and returns from the front with his face disfigured. Brooding and handsome (despite his injury), he's basically what Darcy would have been like if he'd born in time for the trenches.


Richard Sharpe. The name alone activates swoon receptors in many of us. Blessed with the looks of a dashing Byronic hero, and the heart of a raging lion, Sharpe gets stuck into the mud and muck of the Napoleonic Wars and looks all the better for it. This is a man whose life is so full of drama and adventure that he first met one of his girlfriends when she shot him (we're looking at you, Lucille).

What makes Sharpe so irresistible is he's decent, honest and noble without being boring. You couldn't really describe him as a lovable rogue. He's not a rogue at all. He pulls off the more impressive feat of making being "good" look good, filled with the fury of a righteous cause, throwing himself into harm's way for his nation and for his faithful Chosen Men. A hero, in other words.


Here's a bit of a curveball. We know Lucien Blake as the medically-minded sleuth of the Doctor Blake Mysteries, hard at work cracking crimes in the suspiciously lethal Australian town of Ballarat. But one of the key elements of Dr Lucien Blake's character is that he's a former soldier, burdened by dark memories from World War Two. The titanic conflict changed his life forever, as he was thrust into the horrors that engulfed the Far East.

Not only did he serve as a medic during the war, but he was taken prisoner and holed up in the gruelling Ban Pong PoW camp in Thailand. There's another reason his time as a soldier is so meaningful to him: it was during this time that he married a Chinese woman and had a child, forging a family who vanished after the Fall of Singapore. He may not be a military man anymore, but Lucien Blake will never leave his soldier years behind...


The tragic hero of Parade's End, Christopher Tietjens is a man trapped by the conventions of his time. Hemmed in by his aristocratic upbringing, he's repressed, reserved Edwardian relic, and lets others walk all over him - including his brazenly unfaithful and vampish wife Sylvia.

And yet, we love this man. We love his almost child-like sense of right and wrong, and the adorable way he fumbles with his own emotions instead of just giving into them. Played with perfect delicacy by Benedict Cumberbatch, he is the very definition of the phrase "still waters run deep" - even when he's thrust into the thick of World War One, and has to somehow maintain his Edwardian value in a shocking new era of mechanised slaughter.