Why Make the Show?
There isn’t the chance for civilians to test themselves in this sort of situation. You can’t recreate the tests and the challenges, in this environment unless you’ve been there and done it. There aren’t many who have.
There have been shows before that take civilians and push them to the limit, both physically and mentally but SAS Who Dares Wins did a great job of it.
I watched it from the start. The DS throw a bunch of civilians in to the jungle for some SAS style training. We follow them as they get broken down day by day until a winner is found.
The winner being the one who isn’t just the fittest but has the character, mental fortitude and strength of body and mind to continue, no matter what, and stay switched on to complete the mission successfully.
Is SAS Who Dares Wins Any Good?
I loved it but I suppose it depends what you’re looking for. If you wanted to watch some civilians getting beasted purely fitness wise to see if they can do it then you may not like it.
The thing is, there are some very fit individuals out there that could do the physical tests over a short period of time. It’s doing it over a longer period of time that gets harder. The show can’t run for six months just to test someones physical capabilities.
The tougher part to get through is the mental side of the game. This is where they really find out if you’re up for it or not. The majority of people will quit before the bullshit gets that bad. Mental strength can be evaluated in a shorter period of time. Just make people uncomfortable and treat them like shit. It works.
I remember watching the Bear Grylls show Escape to the Legion about taking people to try the French Foreign Legion. They were all claiming at the start how they will get through it to show people they could do it but the bullshit is hard to put up with.
They’ll Break Them Down
When they’re hungry, tired, cold and getting told to scrub a sandy floor with a toothbrush they walk off, quitting, saying that it’s bullshit and it’s not what it should be about, it’s not what they’re there for. The thing is it’s exactly what they’re there for, to prove they could cope with the training, physically and mentally.
This is exactly what it’s about. The instructors watch closely because they need to know that when the shit hits the fan, when things get really shit, that you will still crack on and get the mission done. You can’t start quitting when things get hard. You can’t just go home when lads around you are getting shot and you get uncomfortable.
As the trailer for the show said: “Physical fitness is no more than a starting point – the true test is of the mind.”
The DS want to know that after a few days of no food, covertly watching the enemy, you get told that you need to march another 25 miles to reach your extraction point instead of having a helo pick up from two miles away, you won’t chuck your weapon down and says it’s bullshit.
The men that can’t put up with the shit in training won’t put up with it on operations, and that’s where it really matters.
SAS Who Dares Wins – What Did They Focus On?
Back to SAS: Who Dares Wins. This show focused greatly on the mental side of the selection process. That’s not to say it didn’t test them physically.
The Ecuadorian jungle is ripe to test you physically. Humidity levels that could break most people and daily thrashings to tire your body and your mind. It was the little details that broke people early on.
Made a mistake? Then stand around while they beast the rest of the lads instead of just punishing you. For one contestant this was too much, preferring to hand in their armband instead of watch their mates get thrashed.
To judge someones character properly you need to get them out of their comfort zone. You need to get them to face their fears. You need to give them the chance to see if they can dig deep down inside themselves and find what it takes to get through the challenge they’re facing.
Moses was an early example. Not being able to swim is not an ideal trait when you need to jump 30ft in to the Amazon river. It took him nearly 30 minutes to build up the courage to jump but he did it. He was almost the first person to leave the show.
SAS Who Dares Wins – The Instructors
The instructors are all ex special forces so they know what it takes and they can apply similar tests to the contestants. They all have tons of military experience behind them and can utilise this in the show to ensure its both tough and realistic.
Of course it won’t be exactly like the real thing but it’ll be close. The mental fortitude needed and character to pass the show is not unlike what’s needed for real.The DS increase the pressure day by day, testing leadership skills and raising the bar with each test they face.
The Interrogation Phase
The final 24 hour interrogation test broke all but one of the remaining contestants. It wasn’t because they couldn’t put up with the stress positions and constant noise of a baby crying in to their headphones. They had to answer questions correctly, keeping the captors happy but also not giving away too much information that could compromise their mission.
They had a cover story to stick to. This was too hard for some. Again Moses rose above the rest, giving vague answers to keep them happy but not giving away vital information.
When the DS removed the hood for questioning they were in a world of pain. The stress was getting to them. The contestants were withdrawn because they couldn’t continue holding the stress positions and maintain what seemed to be a sane state of mind.
In a real life capture situation they would have broken. I’m not surprised as only around 10% of applicants pass the selection process, with nearly all of these being trained soldiers.
If you’re interested in seeing more of SAS Who Dares Wins then you can watch it here. Ant Middleton confirmed to me that series three has been confirmed so keep an eye out for it.