Like Peaky Blinders, Steven Knight's new BBC drama SAS Rogue Heroes is inspired by real-life figures and their extraordinary exploits.


The six-part series, which is based on Ben Macintyre's book of the same name, explores how the Special Air Service was formed during World War II, with Knight largely remaining faithful to what really happened.

But some creative licence has, of course, been taken – although not in the way you might expect.

Chatting at a recent Q&A, Knight said that he had to pare down the story "so many times" because the actions of the real-life men at the heart of it appear improbable.

One such moment was a scene in episode 1 in which David Stirling (Connor Swindells) chucks a toy grenade on a snooker table he requires use of when a group of men refuse to budge.

"The hand grenade scene on the snooker table has never been written down," Knight said. "I met Mike Sadler (Tom Glynn-Carney), who is the last surviving member of the original SAS. He's now 102, he was 99 when I met him, and he told me a story about him and Sterling in a bar in Paris. Somebody said, 'You can't use this table, we're using it.' And the hand grenade he used was a real hand grenade. The actual hand grenade was real. They were beyond reason. But to make it seem realistic I turned it into a dummy hand grenade."

David Stirling chucking a toy grenade onto a snooker table while a group of men look on, shocked
David Stirling (CONNOR SWINDELLS) and Jock Lewes (ALFIE ALLEN). Kudos/Robert Viglasky

Knight went on to praise the men at the centre of the story for their "remarkable" service, adding: "I think they turned the course of the Second World War. And what we've tried to do is do justice to what they did, their heroism. They are the people who stepped up and so this is a tribute to them.

"If anything can come from this, it's that people appreciate what these people did, but also understand that they were sort of ordinary people thrown into an exceptional situation. And maybe heroes who aren't necessarily born heroes, they can become heroes as a consequence of the situation [they're thrown into]."

SAS Rogue Heroes is available to watch on BBC One and iPlayer. Visit our TV Guide to see what else is on tonight, or check out the rest of our Drama coverage.


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