Bluestone 42

Bluestone 42 is a comedy drama series about a British bomb disposal detachment in Afghanistan during Operation Herrick, first broadcast on 5 March 2013 on BBC Three. Filmed in South Africa, the show focuses on the camaraderie between the soldiers, situational comedy, bureaucracy, conflicts of interests and relationships, and is contrasted with the deadly situations the soldiers are required to defuse. The show's name refers to the unit's call-sign, and is rendered verbally as "Bluestone Four-Two."

Bluestone 42
GenreComedy drama
Written byRichard Hurst
James Cary
Composer(s)Vince Pope
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series3
No. of episodes21
Executive producer(s)Stephen McCrum
Producer(s)Michelle Farr
Production location(s)South Africa
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)BBC Productions
Original networkBBC Three
Picture format16:9 1080i
Audio formatStereo
Original release5 March 2013 (2013-03-05) 
13 April 2015 (2015-04-13)
External links
Production website

The third and final series began on 9 March 2015 and ended on 13 April 2015. In July 2015, writers Cary and Hurst confirmed the show would not return for a fourth series. They cited BBC Three's impending move to online, and the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan as contributing towards the show having 'run its course.'[1]

Plot summary

Series 1 and 2

A major plot arc revolved around a will-they-won't-they relationship between the Captain Nick Medhurst, Bluestone 42's Ammunition Technical Officer, and Major Mary Greenstock, the Padre at Patrol Base Frost, the Forward operating base where Bluestone 42 is based. This involves Nick's repeated attempts at romance which are half-heartedly shrugged off by Mary. New character Corporal Gordon "Towerblock" House is introduced at the end of Series 1. His dislike of Nick for being of a higher social class than him leads to confrontations, with Towerblock labeling Nick a "Rupert" (a mostly derogatory term for an upper-class officer). This is soon resolved after a close encounter with the Taliban.

Minor story-lines often involve Scottish Privates Kevin "Mac" McDowell and Euan "Rocket" Armstrong, and the bizarre activities they invent to while away the time, described by their lance corporal as "Stupid, dangerous and often quite unhygienic".

Series 3

During the second episode, Medhurst is badly injured when trying to defuse an IED, his injuries lead to him losing a leg. It is during this ordeal that Corporal Lynda Bird's true feelings for Nick manifest and she is visibly the most upset by Nick's injury.

With Nick out of Afghanistan, new ATO Captain Ellen Best takes charge of Bluestone 42. She is initially met with hostility from Bird due to her aforementioned attraction to Nick, but she later learns to respect, or even like her. Captain Best detracts from Nick's laid back and lazy attitude towards Army regulations and tries to complete her role as ATO by the book; as showcased by her in the third episode however, she is willing to sacrifice her integrity for the good of the team (namely by stealing a fridge). A minor story arc is Lance Corporal Simon "Medal" Lansley's romantic attempts with Ellen, much to the delight of "Mac" and "Rocket" who perpetually taunt Simon, however, in Episode 5, Ellen explains to Simon that she has no feelings for him and even if she did, it would violate regulations. In Episode 6, Simon learns that the medal Nick wrote him up for has been denied, and that the officer his fiance left him for has not only been awarded a medal but also had a previous romance with Captain Best. After mistaking an attempt by Mac and Rocket to show him respect by awarding him a medal of their own design as mockery, Simon goes AWOL on the final day of the tour and is left in Afghanistan.


  • Oliver Chris as Captain Nick Medhurst (Series 1–3 Ep 2)
  • Kelly Adams as Padre Major Mary Greenstock (Series 1–2)
  • Tony Gardner as Lieutenant Colonel Phillip Smith (Series 1-3)
  • Katie Lyons as Corporal Lynda Bird, Electronic Countermeasures operator (Series 1-3)
  • Gary Carr as Corporal Christian "Millsy" Mills (Series 1)
  • Matthew Lewis as Corporal Gordon "Towerblock" House (Series 2-3)
  • Stephen Wight as Lance Corporal Simon "Skip" Lansley (Series 1-3)
  • Scott Hoatson as Private Euan "Rocket" Armstrong (Series 1-3)
  • Jamie Quinn as Private Kevin "Mac" McDowell (Series 1-3)
  • Keeno-Lee Hector as Faruq Harrif, interpreter (Series 1-3)
  • Laura Aikman as Captain Ellen Best (Series 3)
  • Susan Wokoma as Lance Corporal Jasmine Jasper, Medic (Series 3)
  • Mark Evans as Padre Major Keith Turnbull (Series 3)
  • Ndoni Khanyile as Private Pamela Roberts (Series 1)
  • Rory Girvan as Corporal Dave Lamming (Series 2)

Guest and supporting actors

  • Mike McShane as Colonel Randall Carter, CIA operative
  • Birgitte Hjort Sørensen as Astrid Nygaard, a Danish hostage
  • Murray Todd as Captain Peter Softly (Guest)
  • Rory Acton-Burnell as Sergeant Robert Hogg (series 1)
  • Matt Newman as Sergeant Morrison (Guest)
  • Jeremy Jess Boado as Wakdar (Guest)


Series Episodes Originally aired
Series premiere Series finale
1 8 5 March 2013 23 April 2013
Christmas Special 1 26 December 2013
2 6 27 February 2014 27 March 2014
3 6 9 March 2015 13 April 2015

Series 1 (2013)

Series # Episode # Title Directed by Written by Original air date UK viewing figures[2]
11"Episode 1"Iain B MacDonaldRichard Hurst & James Cary5 March 2013 (2013-03-05)969,000
The team experience a tough roadside ops, whilst Mary catches Nick's attention.
22"Episode 2"Iain B MacDonaldRichard Hurst & James Cary12 March 2013 (2013-03-12)652,000
Nick is desperate to find some decent food to use in an attempt to seduce Mary, whilst Simon gets into trouble on roadside ops.
33"Episode 3"Iain B MacDonaldRichard Hurst & James Cary19 March 2013 (2013-03-19)676,000
After Bluestone 42 join a midnight raid on a bomb factory and rescue a kidnapped Danish aid worker (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), they find more than they bargained for. Simon tries to get a book deal for his memoir.
44"Episode 4"Iain B MacDonaldRichard Hurst & James Cary26 March 2013 (2013-03-26)Fewer than 624,000
Nick tries to prove he is not superstitious to the padre, while Simon tries to earn respect by joining in dangerous homemade games with Mac and Rocket.
55"Episode 5"Iain B MacDonaldRichard Hurst & James Cary2 April 2013 (2013-04-02)Fewer than 662,000
Mary reveals a secret about her past before she became a padre and Nick tries to take full advantage. Bird is offered a promotion.
66"Episode 6"Iain B MacDonaldRichard Hurst & James Cary9 April 2013 (2013-04-09)Fewer than 660,000
Nick and Simon help each other to learn to dance, whilst the arrival of veterinary corps Captain Parikh reveals Bird as a terrible flirt.
77"Episode 7"Iain B MacDonaldRichard Hurst & James Cary16 April 2013 (2013-04-16)651,000
A mortar attack on the patrol base sends Bluestone 42 diving for cover.
88"Episode 8"Iain B MacDonaldRichard Hurst & James Cary23 April 2013 (2013-04-23)677,000
Nick faces a gruelling challenge with a booby-trapped car bomb, while Simon finally stands up to his fiancée.
9CS1"Episode 9"Iain B MacDonaldRichard Hurst & James Cary26 December 2013 (2013-12-26)Fewer than 638,000
Bluestone 42 Christmas special.
This episode was originally due to air on 23 December but was postponed after a British soldier was killed during active service in Afghanistan.

Series 2 (2014)

Series 2 began airing on 27 February 2014 with Matthew Lewis joining the cast as ammunition technician Gordon House.[3][4]

Series # Episode # Title Directed by Written by Original air date UK viewing figures[5]
110"Episode 1"Iain B MacDonaldRichard Hurst & James Cary27 February 2014 (2014-02-27)Fewer than 597,000
Mac tries to get the camp's "filthiest bastard" award by lying about how he contracted crabs. Nick tries to bluff his way through a Glock Weapons Handling Test
211"Episode 2"Iain B MacDonaldRichard Hurst & James Cary6 March 2014 (2014-03-06)Fewer than 633,000
A blast from the past knocks Nick off his game. Bird tries to teach Mary a lesson that the padre is out of touch with the troops.
312"Episode 3"Iain B MacDonaldRichard Hurst & James Cary13 March 2014 (2014-03-13)Fewer than 617,000
Nick and the Lt Colonel find themselves in a battle of wills. Rocket gets a pet rat.
413"Episode 4"Iain B MacDonaldRichard Hurst & James Cary20 March 2014 (2014-03-20)Fewer than 611,000
The team gets a visit from a government minister, to whom Mary unexpectedly takes a shine.
514"Episode 5"Iain B MacDonaldRichard Hurst & James Cary27 March 2014 (2014-03-27)Fewer than 553,000
Bird hatches a plan to stop Nick and Mary going on about each other once and for all.
615"Episode 6"Iain B MacDonaldRichard Hurst & James Cary27 March 2014 (2014-03-27)556,000
Simon's lack of trust in Mac and Rocket comes back to bite him.

Series 3 (2015)

On 20 March 2014 it was confirmed in a BBC announcement that Bluestone 42 had been recommissioned for a third and final series on 24 January 2014, consisting of six 30-minute episodes, produced by Michelle Farr.[6][7] This series began airing on 9 March 2015 on BBC3 at 10pm.

Series # Episode # Title Directed by Written by Original air date UK viewing figures[8]
116"Episode 1"[9]David SantRichard Hurst & James Cary9 March 2015 (2015-03-09)509,000
We rejoin the Bluestone 42 team after the IED explosion has hit their Mastiff. Have they all survived?
217"Episode 2"[10]David SantRichard Hurst & James Cary16 March 2015 (2015-03-16)478,000
The team are called out to a major operation, where events take a worrying turn when ATO, Captain Nick Medhurst fails to spot a secondary trigger on an IED whilst saving an infantryman snagged on a tripwire. Nick is medevacked to Bastion Hospital in critical condition while the rest of the team are stood down and return to their FOB to await news of Nick. Simon makes a life-changing discovery, and despite devastating news from the medical unit, the Colonel insists that the pub quiz night must go on and 'accidentally' reveals a clue to the location of the question sheet to the unit, thus starting a treasure hunt around the base (setup by the Colonel to take their minds off of Nick's condition).
318"Episode 3"[11]David SantRichard Hurst & James Cary23 March 2015 (2015-03-23)504,000
Bluestone 42 meets their new ATO Captain Ellen Best, who has replaced Nick for the remainder of the unit's tour. A certain new arrival on base attracts Simon's attention. Towerblock is put through his paces after challenging Rocket to a battle of the fittest
419"Episode 4"[12]David SantRichard Hurst & James Cary30 March 2015 (2015-03-30)546,000
The team incur a major Taliban attack on their base while Simon suspects a member of the Afghan National Army who are there for bomb diffusion training. The attack distracts Ellen and Bird from their bickering and Towerblock from a difficult phone call to his wife. The team work together, alongside Simon's suspected ANA soldier, to foil a Green on Blue attack when another member of the ANA group lets four insurgents into the base. Rocket gets addicted to service issue orange-flavoured powdered squash during several interrupted dares.
520"Episode 5"[13]David SantRichard Hurst & James Cary6 April 2015 (2015-04-06)567,000
Ellen has to learn to bend the rules, Mac and Rocket do gladiatorial combat and Bird sets Simon up for a fall.
621"Episode 6"[14]David SantRichard Hurst & James Cary13 April 2015 (2015-04-13)472,000
As the team prepare to leave Afghanistan for good, Simon receives some devastating news.


Bluestone 42 has been met with positive reviews. In The Independent, James Rampton described the show as "The Hurt Locker meets Miranda" and said that it "strikes the right balance between edgy and entertaining".[15] Rich Johnston of compared the show favourably to M*A*S*H.[16] Corporal Daniel Whittingham, a British Army bomb disposal expert, said the series' black humour was "spot-on" and its action scenes "pretty accurate".[17]



SeriesRelease nameNo. of discsUK release date (region 2)Notes
1Bluestone 42 - Series 1229 April 2013Out-takes
Mac and Rocket: Uncut
2Bluestone 42 - Series 2123 March 2015
3Bluestone 42 - Series 3116 November 2015
4Bluestone 42 - The Complete Collection4The Complete Series contains 21 Episodes including Out-takes and Mac and Rocket: Uncut


In December 2014 Series 1 was broadcast on the Australian ABC network, and online player ABC iView.[18]


  1. Bluestone 42 ends - News - British Comedy Guide
  2. "Top 10 Programmes". BARB. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
  3. "Bluestone 42 returns on Thu 27th, 10pm". BBC Three.
  4. Fletcher, Alex (28 October 2013). "'Harry Potter' star Matthew Lewis joins BBC army sitcom 'Bluestone 42'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
  5. "Top 10 Programmes". BARB. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  6. "BBC Three announces new comedy commissions". Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  7. "Bluestone 42 returning for Series 3". BBC Three.
  8. "Top 10 Programmes". BARB. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  9. "Episode 1" at BBC Programmes
  10. "Episode 2" at BBC Programmes
  11. "Episode 3" at BBC Programmes
  12. "Episode 4" at BBC Programmes
  13. "Episode 5" at BBC Programmes
  14. "Episode 6" at BBC Programmes
  15. Rampton, James (5 March 2013). "Bluestone 42: The Hurt Locker meets Miranda in military comedy set in Afghanistan". The Independent. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  16. Johnston, Rich (28 March 2013). "Bluestone 42 – A New M*A*S*H?". Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  17. Laura Barnett (16 March 2014). "A bomb disposal expert on the comedy Bluestone 42". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  18. Bluestone 42 ABC Programmes. Retrieved 9 February 2015
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