TV Rating

Combat Kids

BBC

CBBC

Combat Kids is part of Kids And Conflict, a special three-week season of programmes on CBBC that sets out to examine, through drama and documentary, how children are affected by war. The season explores life for those left behind in the UK when a parent goes to fight abroad and discovers what it is like to grow up in war-torn Afghanistan. Combat Kids, from Lime Pictures, looks at the awkwardness of a family divided by the difficulties of military life.

It's the only world 12-year-old Jed has ever known. It's got houses, a green, assault courses, bridges and a hundred forbidden corners. It's an army barracks – home to a regiment and, more importantly, their families. It's a safe place, a tightly knit community of people who happen to do one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in the world.

Jed's sister, Bex, is busy trying to keep her soldier boyfriend a secret. Jed does his best to sabotage her romance. After all, that's what little brothers are for. With his best friends Christie, Zara and Aiden, Jed roams the base and the woods, dodges authority, plays games of soldiers and enjoys the freedom that goes with living in a secure environment. This is childhood as it was meant to be, carefree, inventive and flying in the face of grown-ups' instructions.

And then, quite abruptly, his best friend, Aiden, leaves. That's how it is with army kids – there one minute, gone the next. Aiden's dad has died and his mum chooses to move on and the effect on Jed and the gang is massive. Soon, a new family move into Aiden's old house. And the gang are still trying to cope with his loss when strange warnings start to appear on signs in the woods and Zara becomes weirdly secretive.

Something is definitely up and it's all happening near the secret den in the woods where Jed and his mates like to play. The area is strictly out of bounds – but that only makes it more fun. A rusting old armoured personnel carrier sits among other abandoned military vehicles, next to an improvised wooden structure the kids have built. It's their special place, where no-one can get to them, where they feel free.

And it's where they finally meet the stranger – an odd young boy who has been lurking in the woods. He turns up with an astonishing claim – he's an alien from another planet, the old armoured vehicle is the space-ship he arrived in and, what's more, he's got the maps and plans to prove it. All they've got to do now is help him fix it up so he can fly home.

Zara – who tends to believe anything – is convinced of the truth of all this, and has secretly been helping him for a while. Jed is more sceptical, and Christie goes along with it for a laugh. As the new kid produces ever more convincing evidence of his identity, and a detailed story about an inter-galactic arch-enemy and a missing galaxy shard, the game becomes more and more involving.

The kids throw themselves into their battle with Xan's arch-enemy and embark on a series of missions. They must gather the ingredients to repair the Starburst, mobilise their forces and steal back the key (complete with its galaxy shard) to get the spaceship powered up. They will need to dodge sentries, climb over obstacles, evade ferocious dogs and – above all – stick together, if they are to succeed. But if they get caught, who knows what their evil and powerful enemy may be capable of? One thing is for sure – they are in for some surprises and shocks along the way.

The war might be in a distant land but their dads are out there and they feel it deeply. Escapism isn't a luxury, it's a way of coping. Jed, who can neither explain nor answer the "alien", worries that Zara's getting a bit too keen on the idea of travelling to a place where nobody gets sad. The pressures, meanwhile, of outside life and the tensions of growing up are beginning to take their toll.

Combat Kids is carefree games on a sunlit afternoon, coming home to the tensions of a family divided by the pain of military life. It's growing up when you don't understand what you're supposed to grow into. It's trying to stay mates when the world and the rules keep changing. It's about a group of kids finding out what really matters and nearly losing each other along the way. And it's about the healing power of imagination.


More for Combat Kids

On TV

TV Guide: Not Finding Data.

Search

TV Quick