Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins continues tonight (Sunday, 16th May), with the remaining recruits facing another series of gruelling endurance tasks.
While we’ve already seen three contestants leave the show, tonight’s episode will see Ant Middleton and his team of SAS Who Dares Wins instructors send the 17 recruits deeper into the Isle of Raasay’s unforgiving terrain as they’re subjected to the extreme cold in a water immersion exercise.
With this year’s line-up of contestants made up of Irish dancers, former drug dealers and the show’s first ever transgender recruit, here’s all you need to know about those taking part in SAS: Who Dares Wins series six.
Hometown: From Brescia, Italy but now lives in Truro, Cornwall
Teenage contestant Justine grew up in Northern Italy and moved to the UK after losing her mum to breast cancer at the age of 13. Hoping to someday join the army or work for the UN, the 19-year old has already climbed Everest Base Camp and the Three Passes Trek in Nepal, is a member of the army cadets and has travelled to Canada where she was an expedition leader.
Speaking about her SAS: Who Dares Wins experience, Justine says she hasn’t been the same person since leaving the show. “I left a completely changed person. I learnt more there than in my 18 years of life.”
She added that her first thought on her 18th birthday was that she was old enough to apply for the series. “Since I was 15, I have been training in bodybuilding, sailing competitively at an international level and two years ago I started CrossFit, so I’ve always been physically strong, but I wanted to put my mind to the test too.”
Profession: Sport and Fitness Channel Manager
Hometown: St Helens, Cheshire
Fitness Channel manager Lauren has always been sporty, competing nationally and internationally in netball, hockey, golf, rounders and football throughout her teenage years and winning the National Young Sportswoman award at 16.
A year later, Lauren came out as gay and felt she had to fit into a mould, replacing training with partying, socialising and working. Her biggest regret was giving up her sporting career, and at the age of 23 she returned to sport and shifted her priorities.
Speaking about her time on SAS: Who Dares Wins, Lauren says it was very difficult and intense, but she now understands who is she and what she wants. “The series has given me the best gift – it highlighted skills, allowed me to nurture them and has given me more skills that I now use to do the best I can in life.”
Esther – OUT
Ascot-based Esther was a rebellious teenager growing up and started working at a strip club at the age of 23 to fund a tattoo apprenticeship. She began using drugs and alcohol and in October 2019 she was involved in a serious car crash after leaving work – she believes her drink was spiked but she was later charged with drink-driving. After this, Esther quit her job at the strip club, gave up drugs and now concentrates on living a healthier lifestyle.
The 28-year old says SAS: Who Dares Wins was far worse than she imagined it to be, “It was the most brutal thing I have ever experienced, but I am utterly grateful to be one of very few people that will ever experience this.”
Esther was culled in the first episode, after failing to climb the first hill of the competition in time.
Profession: Solicitor and Personal Training Gym Owner
Having been raised in a strict Mormon household, Rebekah never felt she could relate to the religion’s restrictions, especially when she found herself homeless at the age of 16. She re-sat her GCSEs and A Levels and studied to become a lawyer. She now focuses on her career, being a mum and running her own personal training gym, having freed herself from destructive relationships.
Rebekah describes her experience on SAS: Who Dares Wins as exciting, petrifying and nerve wracking. “I was completely out of my comfort zone, but this was a once in a lifetime experience and an opportunity to meet truly inspirational and amazing people. Overall, this experience gave me a light bulb moment in my own life by finally freeing me from over 35 years of abuse and control, which I have allowed others to have over me.”
Profession: Personal Trainer
Hometown: From Huddersfield but now lives in Leeds
Personal trainer Reanne grew up in an area where gang violence and drugs were rife, experiencing abuse as a child that she didn’t acknowledge until she was a teenager. While at secondary school, Reanne struggled to accept her sexuality, but has always found fitness and training useful in overcoming her demons. She used to play rugby for Yorkshire RUFC.
Reanne says that SAS Who Dares Wins was “the hardest and most testing experience” of her life to date, but hugely rewarding. “I have never been pushed to that extreme and felt so much love and hate towards an experience that has helped me grow into a stronger version of myself.”
Profession: Circus Artist/Project Manager
Hometown: Manchester but living in Derby
Derby-based Holly grew up as a boy, feeling uncomfortable with who she was and how she looked, and by the time she was 25, she began living part-time as Holly. While she began to finally feel happy in her own skin, transitioning meant that Holly lost lifelong friends and was afraid to leave her house after being verbally abused. She started learning aerial dance and is now a three-time aerial champion, having performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and burlesque shows.
On why she signed up for SAS: Who Dares Wins, Holly says she was feeling really insecure in herself. “What woman wants to date a 6’4 trans muscle queen? So one of the reasons I signed up was because with my mental health issues and feeling like I was going to be single for the rest of my life, having never had a relationship, I needed to do something to prove to myself that no matter what life throws at me I’m going to be okay.”
Shireen – OUT
Hometown: North London, originally from Pakistan
North London-based Shireen grew up in a Pakistani household, where she had to cover up and couldn’t wear make-up, She was bullied at school, but at 19 she became a police community support officer and has since set up ethical beauty clinics for women in London, as well as a tech company. Her hobbies include horse-riding, polo, travelling and driving supercars.
Despite serving as a Met officer, Shireen says she’s never experienced anything like SAS: Who Dares Wins. “Having watched the series every year, what you see on TV is nothing compared to the real thing. It was an eye opener for me to even start to think what real people in the SAS are actually exposed to and it made me question how there can be people in this world selfless enough to put their minds and bodies through torment in order to save others’ lives.”
Shireen was culled in the first episode, after failing to climb the first hill of the competition in time.
Profession: Online Fitness Coach
Hometown: Carlisle, Cumbria
Online fitness coach Tyler grew up on a farm. When she turned 14, her parents split up and she began drinking and taking drugs. She gave birth to her first son at 20 and suffered severe postpartum psychosis afterwards. A year later, she found herself agreeing to collect drugs in return for payment and was convicted for conspiracy to sell class A and class B drugs, and sentenced to 12 months in prison. After her time in jail, she turned her life around, getting a successful job and competing in bodybuilding competitions.
Tyler says her time on SAS Who Dares Wins has to be one of the most life-changing experiences she’s ever 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.”
Hampshire-based lawyer Hannah grew up as an ‘army baby’, with her father being a former para-trooper. While she was attracted to joining the military, she qualified as a solicitor instead, but married her husband, who is a former marine. Hannah felt she wanted to apply for the show to gain a deeper understanding of his experience.
Speaking about her time on the show, Hannah says, “It was one of the most affirming, positive, challenging, rewarding, frightening, exposing experiences of my life. I loved it and I embraced everything it had to offer. While I have a couple of minor regrets (backward dive…) I will always remember the friends, the DS, the lessons and the improvements and strength it has brought about in me as a person.”
Profession: Telecoms account executive
Hometown: Farnham, Surrey
Telecoms account executive Phoebe suffered with bulimia while growing up, but discovered bodybuilding, which helped her out of that dark place. Having competed in many female bodybuilding competitions and dabbled in modelling, Phoebe finds her meticulous diet plans and fitness schedules have helped her maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Phoebe says SAS: Who Dares Wins was “one of the hardest things” she’s done in her life. “It is very difficult to put into the words the whole experience for me but I have memories that I will cherish forever, which includes the lows as well as the highs!”
Ricky – OUT
London-based firefighter, Ricky has worked for his local fire service for 15 years and was on call at during the Grenfell Tower fire. Since the event, he has suffered with PTSD and guilt after being unable to save one of the building’s occupants, but relies on his support network and counselling to get him through.
On why he chose to sign up for the show, Ricky says: “In all honesty, I was drunk and a bit lost. I needed a purpose. I needed a cause. I needed a reason to stop drinking. To stop taking drugs and to refocus my pain onto something positive that will help me heal instead of wallow in self-pity and despair. Instead of a life of guilt, I chose a life of closure and hope.”
Ricky handed in his number in the first episode during a night-time endurance exercise.
Tattooist John grew up with deaf parents and took advantage of this to get away with bad behaviour. As a teenager, John drank, smoked and never conformed to rules from a young age. While he found himself partying hard and heading down a dangerous path, John now finds solace in fitness and is in a much happier place.
John says the show opened up his eyes to just how much he can push himself. “It was an amazing experience. I wanted to be broken to the point of tears and that’s exactly what happened but I fought through it and pushed myself like I’ve never done before. I’m a cheeky chap caked in tattoos who started off being mouthy, but after one day I decided to stop. I went on the show to learn to listen more and not get my back up every time someone tells me what to do.”
Profession: Sports teacher and Head of Year
Manchester-based Sean grew up in Moss Side in Manchester, where he’d regularly witness violence and hear shootings. His father spent 10 years in prison and he moved with his mother to East Manchester, where he struggled moving from a multicultural area to a predominantly white community and suffered extreme racism which he never told anyone about. He went to extreme lengths to stop the abuse, but began to fight back as he grew taller. In his 20s, Sean fell into the wrong crowd but turned his life around when he became a teacher. He’s now the Head of Year 10 and teaches sports.
On why he signed up for SAS: Who Dares Wins, Sean said: “The first lockdown really affected my mental health. I struggled to find routine and also had some personal issues I was dealing with. The thought of being away in an unknown location without any contact with the outside world was really positive and gave me something to focus my mind on.”
Profession: Works in the Fitness Industry
London-based Jake works in the fitness industry and has used Instagram and YouTube to encourage conversations around mental health after losing his influencer girlfriend Emily Hartridge in a tragic road accident in 2019.
On why he decided to sign up for SAS: Who Dares Wins, Jake says: “I signed up because I felt very lost in life. After losing Emily back in 2019, I fear sometimes that I have given up in life without her. I needed to prove to myself that I hadn’t. I screamed down that cliff during the abseil task, but the fact I walked off that edge proved that I still had some fight left in me.”
Profession: Salon Owner
Bedford-based DJ is currently in the middle of a divorce from his wife of 13 years, having been through what he describes as a mid life crisis. He gave up banking to open several children’s hair salons, strove to get fitter, got tattoos and started drinking for the first time.
DJ says SAS: Who Dares Wins was probably one of the best individual experiences of his 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.”
Profession: Dental Engineer/Electrician
Hometown: South London, now living in Cornwall
Cornwall-based Kieran was top of the class at school despite suffering with a speech impediment, which he felt had held him back his whole life. He became Young Mayor of Lewisham at age 16 and spoke at national and international conferences, but still struggles with his speech impediment and applied for the show to prove he can finally overcome it.
“It was in many ways a defining moment for me, the Kieran before and the Kieran after SAS: Who Dares Wins,” he says of his experience on the show. “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.”
Profession: Business Owner
Hometown: Rugeley, Staffs
Business owner Jamie grew up in Staffordshire, where he excelled at football and became the captain of every team he played for. However, from the ages of 11-13, Jamie was abused by his football coach but did not tell anyone. After a famous footballer came forward in 2018 to say he was sexually abused as a child by his football coach, Jamie told his story to the police and has received counselling funded by the Football Association ever since. He now runs his own successful fitness business.
Jamie says his time on SAS: Who Dares Wins was truly brutal yet brilliant. “It was an absolute privilege to be part of the show. It makes me immensely proud and humbled to have been chosen as recruit 14. Spending time with the DS, in the most intense and realistic setting was both petrifying and inspiring.”
Profession: Personal Trainer
Personal trainer Alan faced the most challenging year of his life in 2020, when doctors found a tumour behind one of his eyes. He had his right eye removed to stop the cancer spreading to his liver, but due to COVID related delays, he was unable to receive an eye transplant before joining SAS: Who Dares Wins.
On why he wanted to sign up for the show, Alan says: “I wanted to show how even though I lost my eye, I would never class myself as disabled and I could and still do the same things other people can do.”
Profession: Professional Irish Dancer
Hometown: Newtownards, Northern Ireland
Connor grew up in Northern Ireland and took up Irish dancing at school, where he was teased about it. He almost gave up the sport, but his mum encouraged him to carry on with it and for the last seven years, he’s performed with Lord of the Dance around the world, in the West End and on Broadway. He’s currently in the process of setting up a dance school.
Connor says he signed up for SAS: Who Dares Wins to challenge the stereotypes attached to male dancers. “As an Irish dancer, I’ve always been teased about being a wimp, girly and called gay because of my passion. I want to show that a male dancer can be masculine, powerful and tough and that dancers in general are as strong physically and mentally as anyone.”
Occupation: Recruitment warehouse supervisor/Part-time actor and model
Cardiff-based Adam grew up Catholic but began selling drugs at the age of 16 and became a full-time drug dealer as he got older. At 24, he received a conviction for intent to supply drugs and was sentenced to five years in prison, of which he served two and a half. He has since turned his life around and is now working as a warehouse supervisor.
On his time on SAS: Who Dares Wins, Adam says it was the best and worst experience of his life. “I was anxious every time we were in the RV’s wondering what the hell they are going to put us through next. There was nowhere to hide, I was sleep deprived, hungry, wet, emotional. But in the same breath, I got to see amazing scenery from top of the hills/mountains we climbed.”