SAS Rogue Heroes director details ‘worst’ day on set

Your first look at SAS Rogue Heroes – BBC Trailer

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Historical BBC drama SAS Rogue Heroes began last week and tells the inspiring story of real-life war heroes who risked their lives to defeat their enemy and bring World War Two to an end. David Stirling (played by Connor Swindells) teams up with Jock Lewes (Alfie Allen) and Paddy Mayne (Jack O’Connell) to form a special unit trekking across the desert to make history. Director Tom Shankland has opened up about the immense time they had filming in Morrocco and recalled one of the “worst days” they all experienced.

Tom is best known for his work on TV series such as Les Miserables, The Punisher, House of Cards, The Missing and Ripper Street.

When discussing what drew him to the script and why he wanted to work with Peaky Blinders writer Steven Knight he explained the scripts were “so vivid” for him to pass them up.

He told “I read them and everything was so vivid, the language was so fantastic and managed to both feel like it took me back to a moment in time but also was speaking to me so in such a loud and clear way.

“As a director, if you have this wonderful story and these are remarkable people who deserve recognition, I could feel that there was something so vital and vibrant.”

However, as much as he explained his excitement to work on the show and was eager to get started, he revealed the team ran into some hurdles early on in the process.

Half of the series was filmed out in Morrocco and they were there for four to five months due to the coronavirus restrictions.

The team faced 50-degree heat in full costume, with camels, VFX, tanks and all the rest of the props for the series.

When asked whether they faced any major issues whilst filming, he revealed: “I remember a day we had.

“We had all our vehicles, and every take one broke down and it really was 50-degree heat and we just had to get to the second episode where everyone is trying to get to that training place.

“It really felt like we were literally trying to get across the desert, the worst day. Everything broke down, but I would say that it says so much about the spirit of everyone one there.

“We just got on with it, I think everyone got on with it with a fantastic spirit and you could all however bad it was you sort of knew that.

“The real people had all of that to deal with no air con cars and a lot of people trying to bomb them.”

Executive producer Karen Wilson also discussed the hard time they had getting into the country, with the team getting stuck at one point.

She said: “It was crucial for us to get to Morocco, which proved to be one of the biggest challenges of the production because we knew we needed to scale the dessert.

“We couldn’t get out and it meant that you know, there were a couple of brilliant actors that aren’t in very much but they were there for the whole time and it made them part of the piece in such a really important way.

“I think that speaks to the intimacy of the stories that I think have translated to screen as well as they have because of the relationships that everyone built through the process of making the show, which in any normal time would have been challenging.”

In the six-part series, David Stirling is convinced traditional commando units don’t work and decides to take things into his own hands.

With the wise words of Jock Lewes weighing on his shoulder, the team come together however things turn complicated, flawed and reckless.

The second episode will see Stirling recovering in hospital after his parachute failed to open, resulting in two broken legs.

He ruminates on Lewes’s idea to attack the enemy from behind and hatches a plan to get approval for their unit from General Auchinleck at GHQ.

SAS Rogue Heroes airs Sunday from 9pm on BBC One.

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