Paddy Mayne SAS
Special forces

Television Drama To 'Lift The Lid' On SAS Origins

The series will be based on the founding of the elite unit, which was established in 1941 to target Axis fighters in Africa.

Paddy Mayne SAS

Paddy Mayne was one of the early commanders of the SAS during World War Two (Picture: PA).

The founding and early days of the Special Air Service (SAS) is to be told in a new television drama.

The BBC says the series will "lift the lid" on the beginnings of the elite special forces unit, which was established in 1941 to target Axis fighters in north Africa.

Screenwriter and director Steven Knight, the man behind television drama Peaky Blinders, is building a script for a drama, based on Ben Macintyre's best-selling book 'SAS: Rogue Heroes'.

It will cover the creation of the SAS, the new forms of combat and warfare it pioneered, the camaraderie at the heart of it and the key figures who formed the SAS in the darkest days of World War Two.

The cast is still unconfirmed, but Tom Hardy has been rumoured to be part of the project.

The SAS was founded as a regiment by Colonel David Stirling during the Second World War, with the principle of using small bands of troops to operate behind enemy lines using stealth.

When Col Stirling was captured in 1943, command of the SAS passed on to Robert Blair 'Paddy' Mayne.

In the 1950s, the SAS went on to become a corps.

More: Seven questions you have always wanted to ask an SAS veteran.

Mr Macintyre received privileged access to the secret SAS archives to write the critically acclaimed book, which was released in 2016.

It explored the revolutionary thinking which led to the new form of combat and warfare in the deserts of North Africa.

The six-part television series will celebrate "the glory, action and camaraderie at the heart of this story" and "will delve into the psychology of the flawed, reckless but astonishingly brave group of maverick officers and men who formed the SAS in the darkest days of WW2", the BBC said.

Mr Knight said: "This will be a secret history telling the story of exceptional soldiers who decided battles and won wars only to then disappear back into the shadows.

"We will shine a light on remarkable true events informed by the people who shaped them."

Piers Wenger, controller of BBC Drama, added: "SAS: Rogue Heroes will lift the lid on the origins of one of Britain's most iconic institutions and explore the characters, courage and flaws of the men involved."