The final episode of the current series of SAS: Who Dares Wins airs this evening on Channel 4.
This last edition will reveal who has got what it takes to pass this condensed version of SAS selection. The show will bring highlights of the final 48 hours for the remaining seven recruits – Adam, Connor, DJ, Justine, Kieran, Sean and Tyler – go into the most psychologically demanding of all the phases: interrogation. The recruits are hooded, exposed to endless white noise and face brutal tactical questioning from a specialist team of interrogators employing never-before-seen methods to break the remaining few.
The punishing conditions and continued mental pressure prove too much for some, and not all will make it through to the final stage. The few who do survive discover their plight is far from over, with a brutal sickener awaiting them on Dun Caan, the highest peak on the island. This final test is designed by the DS to push the recruits to breaking point. Only the physically and mentally elite will have what it takes to pass selection.
As the series nears the end, Adam, Connor, DJ, Justine, Kieran, Sean and Tyler – reveal some of their thoughts on this unique experience, which started with twenty-one recruits.
“There was one point in the course I thought I was done. This was in the interrogation when we were captured and in my second interview, my story just fell apart and I had to tell the truth to authority, which is unnatural to me as in my past life I always just kept my mouth shut. It did my head in and played on my mind as I thought I f#*ked up and felt like a snitch. But in this situation we were told to tell the truth if sh*t hit the fan, to stay alive. So I just had to remember what the DS taught us.” – Adam
34-year-old Adam has had a chequered life. Despite being a good Catholic boy, Adam began selling drugs at 16. As he got older, he became a full-time drug dealer. He enjoyed the lifestyle that came with earning this kind of money and life was good, until at 24 years old, he received a conviction for intent to supply drugs. He was sentenced to five years in prison, of which he served two and a half. In the ten years since his conviction, he has lived an honest life and has worked hard in his job as a warehouse supervisor. He wants to make his daughter proud of him, so she will never judge him for his past.
“My experience on SAS: Who Dares Wins was a rollercoaster of a ride, a truly life changing experience. It was the toughest thing I have ever done, but I can honestly say I loved every single minute; it was the best experience of my life!
During the course you don’t think about being on TV for one second. The course is so real and authentic that your only focus is on survival, and you forget about everything outside of that. I came out of the course a changed man. I’ve always had confidence but now I believe I can overcome any obstacles that come before me. To learn from, be mentored and guided on a daily basis by such impressive former Special Forces operators was a privilege and something I’m very grateful for.” – Connor
30-year-0ld Connor was one of seven children. His mother was Catholic and his father Protestant, but he was brought up Catholic. He attended the only Catholic school in the area, which he was quite secretive about, around his local Protestant neighbours. As a notorious Catholic sport, Connor took up Irish dancing, which he was teased about at school. He was called gay or told he was a girl for liking Irish dancing. He almost gave it up, but his mum encouraged him to keep going. For the last seven years he’s been a professional dancer appearing in The Lord of the Dance tour.
“[The show] was probably one of the best individual experiences of my life. This was a money can’t buy experience. Whilst on the course, I thought I would never miss the course of the punishments. However, once I got home, I missed being part of the course, quite severely. I missed the company and the friends and the whole experience.” – DJ
35-year-old DJ is currently in the middle of a divorce from his ex wife of 13 years. After they split up, he went through, what he describes as a mid-life crisis. He changed careers, giving up banking to open several childrens hair salons. He also changed his image, getting fitter and tattood and started having fun nights out, drinking for the first time.
“I wouldn’t have made it to the final if it wasn’t for the support of the other recruits on the course, who I’ve become extremely close to. We all pushed each other and formed an incredible bond. Whenever we were sent back to the accommodation for a bit, we would always use that time to talk through tasks and encourage each other. I also think that the CrossFit training I did at CrossFit Truro undoubtedly helped me through all the physical tasks. I trained around people who were willing to push themselves to the limit every day and in training we always try to think of ways to make every workout extremely challenging, to the point where most of the tasks, physically, I could cope with. I just needed to get my mind under control.
“Finally, I think that after day three I realised that there was a purpose to everything we were doing and everything the DS were teaching us so I just embraced the course and tried to enjoy it. Once I’d got my head around that and accepted the process, it all became easier.” – Justine
19-year-old Justine grew up in Northern Italy with her Russian mum and British dad. At 13, Justine’s mum passed away from breast cancer. Her family moved to the UK, and Justine develop a passion for extreme sports. At 16, she travelled on her own to Nepal to climb Everest Base Camp and the Three Passes Trek, which was one of the best experiences of her life. She is also a member of the army cadets and has travelled to Canada, where she was an expedition leader in charge of 100 other cadets. She loves the feeling of being a leader and hopes someday to either join the army or work for the UN.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life so far. Words won’t and can’t do it any justice. It has been life changing in many ways, knowing I have the strength of character and self-resilience to cope with whatever is thrown at me, has made me very proud of myself and my achievement. The whole process is so realistic and it felt like we were being put through SAS selection. It forced me to push myself to my limit; both physically and mentally. I had to dig deep to find the strength I needed to carry on.
“It was in many ways a defining moment for me, the Kieran before and the Kieran after SAS: Who Dares Wins. I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on the process . How it pushed me to my absolute limits and how I was able to do that. It was a journey that mainly occurred within my head. I had to have a lot of conversations with myself, and I found that I was able to sort out issues and problems just through thought. I realised very quickly that I had to be my own biggest fan, my own motivator and my own source of encouragement. This was ultimately going to be the only way I could complete the course. Any self-doubt that crept into my thoughts had to be wrestled with and turned into something positive.” – Kieran
25-year-old Kieran always strived to do the best he could in school, working hard to put himself in the top classes and making himself a role model for other students. All this was in spite of a speech impediment, which he felt held him back his whole life. He has strategies to control it and managed to became Young Mayor of Lewisham at age 16, speaking at national and international conferences about empowering youth. He still struggles with his speech impediment though and applied for the course to prove to himself he can finally overcome his speech impediment and more importantly that there is more to him than his voice.
“The experience for me was by far one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. Physically and mentally, my mind, body and soul was taken to its depth. This is what makes it unique! I’m incredibly grateful for everything I’ve learned and wholeheartedly returned to civilian life a better person than I was before I started the course.
I’ve learned how to control my aggression. More so how to face adversity when I’m in difficult situations. This is something I struggled with before I went on the course. – Sean
31-year-old Sean grew up in Moss Side in Manchester to an Irish father and a Jamaican mother. Where he lived, witnessing violence and hearing shootings was a normal, regular occurrence for him.
His father’s spent ten years in prison and he moved with his mother to East Manchester. Sean struggled with moving from a multicultural area to a predominately white community, and as a result, he suffered extreme racism, which he never told anyone about. To combat the abuse, he would pretend to wash his bike with bleach but instead would scrub the bleach on his arms to lighten his skin tone.
As he grew taller and more physically imposing, Sean started to fight back but admits to going from being bullied to being a bully, to shift the attention he away from him, something he is now ashamed of. In his early twenties, he fell into the wrong crowd but soon changed his ways when he was offered the chance to become a teacher. He’s now Head of Year 10 and also teaches sports. Sean has excelled in his career and is determined to provides his pupils with the care he needed when he was younger.
“This experience has to be one of the most life-changing I have been through. It pushed me beyond both my mental and physical limits and really helped me understand so much about myself. It has to be my ultimate journey of self-discovery, from both a mental and physical perspective. It has taught me transferable skills that I can use in everyday life, and also how to be in complete control of my thoughts, fears and emotions.
“This has been a complete life changing experience for me. It’s a personal journey that I will cherish for the rest of my life. The things I have learnt, not just about myself, but also what the special forces do to protect our country, inspire me daily. I have been given the opportunity to learn both mental and physical tools that I can use for the rest of my life. I feel I have grown as a person and for that, I will be forever thankful.” – Tyler
28-year-old Tyler grew up on a farm. At 14 her parents split up and her life spiralled out of control. She found herself drinking and taking drugs and through the party scene, she met her boyfriend, who she remained with for 11 years. At 20, after the birth of her first son, Tyler suffered severe postpartum psychosis and was hospitalized as a result. Tyler used drugs to escape the empty feeling.
When Tyler was 21, she found herself agreeing to collect some drugs in return for payment of £200. At the time, she needed the money and didn’t realise the scale of the operation she was getting involved with. She was stopped by police with the drugs in the boot, and when questioned, became aware that this was a much more serious situation then she had anticipated. Eventually, both she and her boyfriend were convicted for conspiracy to sell class A and class B drugs worth over £1 million. Tyler was sentenced to 12 months in prison for her part.
She now lives an honest life, with a successful job and through competing in bodybuilding competitions, she has kept her mental health in a positive place.