SAS: Rogue Heroes - Who's in the cast? When does it start? What is the true story it's inspired by?

The fascinating true story of how the world's greatest Special Forces service was created comes to BBC One. Find out who stars in it and who wrote it.

By Katie Archer Published: 23 March 2021 - 2.43pm
Getty Connor Swindells

Drama, adventure and history are set to collide in SAS: Rogue Heroes, a brand new series from Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight.

He’s the man behind one of the BBC’s biggest drama hits, so expect edge-of-your-seat action and fascinating characters from his newest project.

SAS: Rogue Heroes is based on the bestselling book by Ben Macintyre which tells the story of how the world’s greatest Special Forces unit, the SAS, was formed under extraordinary circumstances in the darkest days of World War Two.

Here’s everything you need to know about the series, sure to become unmissable viewing.

What is SAS: Rogue Heroes?

The incredible true story behind the formation of the world’s greatest Special Forces unit, the SAS, is gripping, tense, and perfect for a TV drama adaptation.

SAS: Rogue Heroes was a bestselling book about the beginnings of the SAS written by Ben Macintyre (below), and has been adapted by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight as a major new drama series for BBC One.

Ben Macintyre Getty

An announcement about the series from BBC One tells us: “Cairo, 1941. David Stirling - an eccentric young officer, hospitalised after a training exercise went wrong - is bored.

“Convinced that traditional commando units don’t work, he creates a radical plan that flies in the face of all accepted rules of modern warfare. He fights for permission to recruit the toughest, boldest and brightest soldiers for a small undercover unit that will create mayhem behind enemy lines.

“More rebels than soldiers, Stirling’s team are every bit as complicated, flawed and reckless as they are astonishingly brave and heroic.”

It’s also described as an “exhilarating story of renegade men taking monumental risks in extraordinary circumstances”.

Director of BBC drama Piers Wenger said: “Combining a fascinating, little-known story with all the intelligence and swagger that Steven Knight’s writing is known for, SAS: Rogue Heroes will be like nothing we’ve seen before.”

SAS: Rogue Heroes sounds like it has all the elements needed to keep us glued to our seats throughout the series.

Who stars in it?

There are some big names in the cast, which is mostly made up of young actors, including Alfie Allen, below, to reflect the reality of the story.

Steven Knight said: “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.

Alfie Allen SH Photography

“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.”

Connor Swindells – David Stirling

Swindells stars as the injured young officer with a madcap plan about how to run a Special Forces unit.

Viewers will recognise him from roles in Sex Education and Vigil.

Connor Swindells BBC

He said: “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’Connor – Paddy Mayne

O’Connor is best known for his previous roles in Skins and The North Water.

He said: “I'm excited to be working on Steven Knight's bold and ambitious new project with a brilliant director and fellow cast members. 

Jack O'Connor BBC

“Playing the legend Paddy Mayne is an honour. I can't wait to get stuck into the challenge of telling this story.”

Alfie Allen – Jock Lewes

Allen, brother of singer Lily Allen and the subject of her song Alfie, is now better known for his roles in Game of Thrones and Jojo Rabbit.

He was nominated for an Emmy for his eight-year role as Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones and was seen last year in the series White House Farm.

Sofia Boutella – Eve

Boutella joins the cast of up-and-coming talent from previous appearances in Atomic Blonde, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and the Amazon Prime series Modern Love based on the New York Times column.

Sofia Boutella BBC

Dominic West – Lieutenant Colonel Wrangel Clarke

As one of the more established names in the cast, West will be best known to viewers from his starring roles in hit series The Wire and The Affair.

He also featured as Jean Valjean in the Andrew Davies TV adaptation of Les Miserables, and was recently in the Sky series Brassic for an 11-episode run.

Dominic West BBC

Other cast members include Amir El Masry (Industry), Theo Barklem-Biggs (The First Team), Corin Silva (The Bay), Jacob Ifan (Bang), Dónal Finn (Cursed), Jacob McCarthy (The Last Summer), Michael Schaeffer (Chernobyl) and Miles Jupp (The Durrells).

When is it on TV?

Unfortunately, there’s no air date for SAS: Rogue Heroes yet.

However, we do know that filming is underway, so hopefully it shouldn’t be too long before we have another great drama series to get our teeth into.

When can I see Peaky Blinders season 6?

We can’t talk about Steven Knight without mentioning Peaky Blinders, and fans of the gangster drama series will be itching to get started on series 6.

It’s been confirmed that it will be the last series of Peaky Blinders, but there has been a longer wait than anticipated to see how the Shelbys’ story will end thanks to coronavirus restrictions delaying filming.

The good news is that filming started up at the beginning of 2021 and some typically moody production shots of Cillian Murphy have already been shared, whetting the appetite for the new episodes.

If we’re lucky, season 6 could be on our screens by late 2021 – a year later than originally planned – and if you’re already feeling that the end has come too soon, you’ll be delighted by Knight’s announcement: “While the TV series will be coming to an end, the story will continue in another form.”

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