History

How a tankie got SAS go-ahead to advise on BBC's SAS Rogue Heroes

SAS Rogue Heroes has brought to life the story of the origin of the elite British Army Special Air Service (SAS) during the Second World War.

Accuracy is vital for the TV show, based on the book by Ben Macintyre, as its military audience has a keen eye for detail.

To make sure on-screen guns were fired the way they should be and to ensure the smallest details were correct, the production company employed Ben Simmons, a veteran who now runs a film and TV military advisory company.

Mr Simmons has shared with Forces News the inside scoop on the challenges that he faced on set and even which members of the cast were best at firing a gun.

The veteran says he got the 'blessing' to work on the show depicting the beginning of the SAS, from the SAS itself.

"Because I’m not from the SAS myself I had to ring them up and say this opportunity has come my way, how would you feel about a tankie doing your story?

"The SAS are notoriously standoffish with dealing with the media and the press, for obvious reasons," he added.

"They would never ever advise on something like this.

"So we got if not the nod, then 'If you f*** up we will find you'," Mr Simmons said.

Feeling a lot of pressure from the get-go, the veteran felt the full weight of the responsibility to make the show as historically accurate as possible. 

He also focused on making the shooting scenes look real. Luckily, he said that the actors "were like sponges", but there was one cast member that stood out.

According to Mr Simmons, former Skins actor Jack O'Connell was particularly good at picking up weapons skills.

Shooting came naturally to the actor who, Mr Simmons added, toyed with the idea of joining the marines when he was younger.