Secret Agent Selection: WW2

Secret Agent Selection: WW2

Series 1 - Episode 2



As today’s volunteers progress through their training in 1940s-style guerrilla warfare, things get ugly. It’s interesting to watch how their modern sensibilities cope with, say, learning the “double tap” method of killing with a pistol… or gutting a dead rat to fill it with explosive (a standard Special Operations Executive ploy, apparently).

The programme delivers at the level of “I wonder how I’d fare?”, but also gets across nuggets of history about what Churchill dubbed “the ministry of ungentlemanly warfare”, such as their fondness for street-fighting methods (fingers in the eyes, knee to the groin etc) and 007-style gadgets. I would have liked to know more about the “sleeve gun”.

But none of this would have been any good if you didn’t have the right temperament. So what was that? Over-confidence and a keenness to impress were not on the list of requirements.


Training begins in earnest for the hardy recruits, as the students are schooled in guns, explosives and silent killing techniques. These were among the range of skills that came together and helped the Special Operations Executive to pull off one of the most audacious assassinations of the Second World War, and the students need to show a calm head and a killer instinct when handling real weapons, but not everyone is able to meet the exacting standards required. Narrated by Douglas Henshall.

Cast & Crew

Narrator Douglas Henshall
Director Garfield Carrott
Editor Doug Howarth
Executive Producer Cate Hall
Producer Zinia Scroggs
Series Producer Michael Fraser
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