Main The Brigadier Discussion

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01:22:01 PM May 8th 2014
This a trope named after a single character — it LOOKS like a more general trope, but it is named specifically for the Doctor Who character and bears his nickname.

Are we still trying to eliminate character-named tropes? Because this would be a prime candidate to be renamed something like "Reasonable Military Officer."
03:32:56 AM May 9th 2014
Well, if you want to rename this feel free to propose it in the Trope Repair Shop. Make sure you are familiar with Everything You Wanted to Know About Changing Names beforehand.
03:51:48 PM Jan 24th 2013
edited by AgProv
It's an interesting rank in the British Army. (roughly equates to an American one-star general). Just as a Lance-Corporal (private, first class) is a rank where the owner has slightly more authority than a private soldier, but nowhere near the authority held by a full Corporal, it's a kind of in-between state. the Brigadier notionally commands a Brigade of three battalions. But each of those Battalions is under the day-to-day command of a Colonel and the wise Brigadier has to step back and leave them to it. He is therefore one step removed from day-to-day command of a fighting unit, and one step short of wielding the power of a General. Being remote from any real telling power - and by the law of diminishing returns, unlikely to gain further promotion unless he is really outstandingly good (the total number of Generals is a lot less than the total number of Brigadiers), there is a real danger he could be sidelined and rendered somewhat ineffectual. Combined with a remoteness from actual leadership in any real sense, the rank is therefore famed for being the last resting place of the inept, the Peter Principle applied to military management. This may explain why the rank is satirised so much as being the graveyard of Colonel Blimp types, from the pompous idiot of Dand Mc Neill's McAuslan stories, through the U.NI.T. commander in Dr Who, to Graham Chapman's frankly barking mad character in Monty Python. (Brigadier from the waist up, tutu'd ballerina from the waist down, bursting in to bark "Silly!" at the conclusion if the sketch.

There is a suspicion the British Army uses this rank as a means of weeding out officers competent enough as colonels, but who are too, er, lacking to be advanced to General.

It has also been the case in the past - maybe not so much today - that the Old Boy's Club of the British Establishment is kind and considerate to old soldiers approaching the end of their careers. To enable a worthy chap to retire from the Army in a suitable way, senior officers were promoted to the next highest rank on the ladder for the last few months of their careers, giving a Colonel the kudos of retiring as a Brigadier or a Brigadier the status of retiring as a General. Quite often these men were given light duties in places where they could cause no real damage, ie managing stores depots, or made Inspector-General of Public School Combined Cadet Forces, or given study leave to write theses to be lodged in the libraries of Sandhurst or the relevant military technical college. The whole idea was that they could then retire on the pension appropriate to the higher rank. The rather disparaging term for a very senior officer promoted for reasons other than his competence was a retread. (like an old bald tyre given a new lease of life, even if it was inferior to a brand-new one...) In the meantime, the Army put them where they could cause no real harm.

The rank of Brigadier was also conferred on the husband of Camilla Parker-Bowles, a rather lacklustre Army officer. The suspicion is that this accelerated promotion was both consolation for his being blatantly cuckolded by Prince Charles, and as a bribe for him to keep his mouth shut. Brigadier Parker-Bowles was shunted sideways into a job where his particular talents could do least harm, as Director of the British Army's veterinary and horse-procurement services.
08:32:26 AM Jan 25th 2013
All interesting, esp. the last paragraph, which appears on the article page under "Real Life".

And NONE of it anything whatever to do w/ this (misleadingly named) Trope.

I'd really like to save the above material, and that last 'graf (to which I've added a line). Where should it go??
01:31:56 PM May 10th 2013
edited by
That's interesting. The Real Life material on Brigadier Parker-Bowles has disappeared. But there's no record of it in the history, which in fact records nothing - zero edits have apparently happened. Somebody must have done it and they must have done it for a reason, but it all seems a bit clandestine. I'd reinstate it, but if a mod's done the deletion for whatever reason, they don't like that sort of thing. sod it, I think I'll reinstate it anyway. If I get PM'd by a mod for starting a flame war or something, I can raise the issue of why it was deleted and ask for a reason so I can repost it here. That's fair, as the edit history has disappeared and there's no apparent reason for it. It's all justifiable and is an old story a lot of British newspapers ran with at the time!

01:42:38 PM May 10th 2013
Thanks, Hodor, for giving a reason! I'd be perfectly happy for it to go to YMMV, now we've cleared this matter up. I'd still argue that over-promoted idiocy or promotion for other reasons than competence is a valid part of this trope, though! "Brigadier" and "pompous Blimp" are pretty much synonymous in the British Army, and in a trope about Brigadier-ness, it belongs.
02:01:59 PM May 10th 2013
I added it under the name "Uriah Promotion". I think part of the trope for this might be Kicked Upstairs or The Peter Principle for the general idea of over-promoted idiocy. Moreso the latter, since Kicked Upstairs sometimes involves competent people who are punished by a "promotion" that makes them powerless.
03:46:11 PM Jun 23rd 2012
edited by DonaldthePotholer
The equivalent rank to Brigadier in the Navy is "Commodore". Yet, in at least one example, Commander is used instead. (EDIT: I'm thinking in that example, it was due to how close the two words are spelled or something.) How often is Commodore used in fiction and, out of these, how often as this Trope versus Colonel Badass, General Ripper, or General Failure?
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