Everything We Know About Steven Knight's 'SAS: Rogue Heroes'

Laura Martin
·4-min read
Photo credit: GP Images/WireImage - Getty Images
Photo credit: GP Images/WireImage - Getty Images

From Esquire

With the sun about to set on the Peaky Blinders empire, creator and showrunner Steven Knight hasn’t exactly been twiddling his thumbs.

It’s just been announced that Knight is behind a major new BBC drama series called SAS: Rogue Heroes. Not to be confused with SAS: Red Notice (a film based on Andy McNab’s novel of the same name), SAS: Rogue Heroes is about the founding of the British Army’s Special Air Service during World War II.

The first names for the cast list have just been revealed and our interest has definitely been piqued by the talent set to get stuck into camo gear. We’re told filming will commence on the production shortly, so while we await our next instructions, here’s what to expect from this new epic drama.

What’s the big idea?

SAS: Rogue Heroes has been adapted for the small screen by Knight, and originates from Ben Macintyre’s best-selling book, the slightly more of a mouthful Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain's Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War.

In the book, Macintyre tells the true story of an eccentric officer, David Stirling, who while at war in 1941 in the Western Desert, came up with the idea of a small undercover unit of the toughest and brightest soldiers currently serving in the Army, to be deployed to lethal effect in war and peacetime.

Winston Churchill was initially against the idea, but then granted his permission, so Stirling began to recruit men for his mysterious military organisation. Seventy-five years later, the Special Air Service finally revealed some of their many secrets and incredible stories of how they came to be, told through reports, memos, maps, photos and letters, all pieced together by the historian author.

The BBC says in its synopsis: “Convinced that traditional commando units don’t work, Stirling creates a radical plan that flies in the face of all accepted rules of modern warfare...More rebels than soldiers, Stirling’s team are every bit as complicated, flawed and reckless as they are astonishingly brave and heroic.” Sounds like good telly.

Who’s starring in SAS: Rogue Heroes?

Unlike the actual SAS, the BBC has been very keen to reveal their identities, considering just who they’ve pulled in. Connor Swindells (Adam in Sex Education) will take the lead role of David Stirling, while Dominic West will be glad of something new to talk about, as he’s cast as Lieutenant Colonel Wrangel Clarke.

Jack O’Connell (who did the troubled soldier thing brilliantly in ‘71) will play Paddy Mayne, while Game Of Thrones’ star Alfie Allen has bagged another career-boosting role as Jock Lewes. Sofia Boutella from Modern Love rounds out the leads as Eve.

Other actors stepping up for duty will be Amir El Masry (Industry, The One), Theo Barklem-Biggs (The First Team, Carnival Row), Corin Silva (The Bay, Emmerdale), Jacob Ifan (Bang, The Accident), Dónal Finn (Cursed, The Witcher), Jacob McCarthy (The Last Summer, A.P. Bio), Michael Schaeffer (Chernobyl, The Salisbury Poisonings) and Miles Jupp (The Great, The Durrells).

Photo credit: Tom Craig
Photo credit: Tom Craig

What do the actors say about the production?

Connor Swindells told the BBC: “I feel tremendously honoured to be joining this series with such a talented group of people. Portraying such an interesting man is incredibly exciting and I feel very lucky to be able to do so. It’s going to be an amazing ride.”

Jack O’Connell added: “I'm excited to be working on Steven Knight's bold and ambitious new project with a brilliant director and fellow cast members. Playing the legend Paddy Mayne is an honour. I can't wait to get stuck into the challenge of telling this story.”

What does Knight say about the series?

“I’m really excited to be gathering together the very best of a new generation of British and International talent to tell this remarkable story. The people who are depicted and who did such extraordinary things were young, in their 20s, and we have made a conscious decision to cast people of the same age.

“We enter this project with a spirit of adventure and believe our young and talented actors will do justice to this period of history.”

Is there a trailer yet?

They’ve barely even started shooting yet. Calm down.

OK. So when can we expect SAS: Rogue Heroes to arrive on screen?

Filming has only just begun, and the scale of production and the size of the cast mean it’s likely to be a long shoot. Early 2022 is the most likely airdate for this.

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