Interview with Stacey Dooley on Stacey Dooley: Ready for War?

Stacey Dooley follows a group of Ukrainian civilians as they arrive in the UK to begin five weeks of intensive army training

Meet the Ukrainian civilians ready to fight Russian on the frontline


BBC Three

Having filmed numerous hard-hitting documentaries, how does this programme filming with Ukrainian trainee soldiers differ for you?

For me, what makes this documentary fascinating is the fact that these men we are following are civilian individuals with no prior experience in terms of military life or war. It's literally like your own boyfriend or brother being asked to step up and fight the Russian army on the frontline. It's an unimaginable task.

Why did you want to be involved?

I was keen to follow these guys and this training process as I'm genuinely curious how you try and prepare a florist to change his entire identity essentially, and equip them to kill the enemy. That's such a monumental shift. Plus, I always appreciate spending time with ordinary people, who have found themselves often unwillingly, in extraordinary situations.

What have you struggled with the most whilst making this documentary?

You always feel daft saying what you've struggled with whilst making a doc, because honestly running around in what's a really a safe environment in Britain is nothing compared to what these guys are going home to. But I suppose it's emotionally tricky when you establish a genuine rapport with these men, and you know that some of them just won't make it. Also, at the time of filming I was jumping over fences eight months pregnant which took a bit of navigating!

What surprised you the most?

The fact they are only given this comparatively short (though incredibly intense) training to prepare for war is really very sobering.

What do you hope viewers will take away from watching the programme, and who do you hope will be watching?

I hope viewers will realise that honestly none of us are completely guaranteed a safe life. None of us know what the future holds and you have to imagine how you would like to be treated if it suddenly became impossible for you to live in your own home (through no fault of your own). I've always felt like this when covering those who have been forced to experience war.

Is there a message of hope, in amongst the sadness and bleakness, for these recruits?

The overwhelming emotion is despair honestly, because the whole situation just feels so cruel and bleak. However, you always meet the most remarkable people in these kinds of scenarios and actually there are moments where you are just hanging out with pretty cool people, who you are really in awe of. I also really feel the Ukrainians truly believe in what they are fighting for. Their right to live in their country. Their culture. Their kids freedom. And that allows you to feel hopeful at times.

What was the most challenging part of filming?

Filming sensitive documentaries are never easy, but they shouldn't be. They need to be really carefully handled and obviously there's a duty of care towards all of those who contribute. You have to make sure everyone involved fully understands what participating means.

You also have to have uncomfortable conversations with people, for example, if they die before the film is broadcast, how would they like us to respond? We are all adults and I feel like it was all handled in a really considered way.

Is there anything you can share with us, perhaps a unique piece of information, that you think we should all know about the making of this documentary?

I think what I would like everyone to know is that every person we interviewed for this film...they themselves were really keen to tell the audience how they felt and how the invasion had affected their families. It was an opportunity for them to take control of their own narrative and describe the impact. This story felt really important to try and cover.

It's also necessary that the British public are aware of how we are contributing. Not just financially. What these civilians are taught by the British Army could potentially save their lives. Which feels pretty enormous.


Stacey Dooley will follow a group of Ukrainian civilians as they arrive in the UK to begin five weeks of intensive army training. With exclusive and unprecedented access to the British Army’s training mission, the recruits will learn to survive and to be lethal, as they prepare for deployment to the frontline fighting against Russia.

Among the young civilians putting their lives on the line, Stacey meets florist and gardener Mykola, who wants to join his family members already on the frontline. He tells Stacey he hopes for victory so that he can marry his girlfriend. For Pasha, a welder who was living abroad when the invasion began, he fears going into battle will mean never seeing his parents again.

Stacey Dooley: Ready For War? airs on BBC Three on Wednesday 12 April at 9pm and will be available on BBC iPlayer from 6am the same day.

Source BBC Three

April 5, 2023 2:00am ET by Pressparty  


  Shortlink to this content:


Latest Press Releases