Ant Middleton SAS Who Dares Wins Chief Instructor Episode 6 Credit Channel 4
Special forces

Ant Middleton Says SAS Who Dares Wins Champions Have What It Takes To Join Special Forces Team

“Everything that we expect from a potential Special Forces operator, you ... have in abundance."

Ant Middleton SAS Who Dares Wins Chief Instructor Episode 6 Credit Channel 4

In the final episode of the latest series of SAS Who Dares Wins, Chief Instructor Ant Middleton and Directing Staff (DS) Foxy, Billy, Ollie and Jay borrow a dangerous technique from Navy Seals Special Forces training for the final challenge of the SAS selection course.

Can the recruits survive ‘drownproofing’ - simulated drowning in the turbulent and freezing Scottish waters – to impress the DS and prove they have what it takes to pass SAS selection? 

With only seven recruits left out of 25, can they cope with the pain and suffering to prove themselves worthy of completing the course?

SAS Who Dares Wins 2020 Interrogation Episode 6 Credit Channel 4
Credit: Channel 4

The Interrogation Continues 

Eight hours into the extreme interrogation part of the SAS selection course, recruit Myles decides that to continue would be detrimental to his mental health. About interrogation Foxy said: 

“Being in interrogation is probably the most vulnerable any human will ever feel. It can expose all your demons.

“You as an individual are faced with two choices. You either fight the demon or you let the demon win.” 

Only six recruits have made it to the final stage of the course - Myles, Elouise, Nicola, Carla, Kim, James and Chris. It’s at this point that the specialist interrogators, led by 'The Umpire', whose identity must remain secret for security reasons, really ramp up the pressure by using the most personal details of each recruits' lives to test their resolve. They are doing this to force the recruits to reveal details about the cover story they were given two days before to keep their true identities hidden. 

Video: Channel 4 / Contains Swearing

First up is Chris O who, earlier in the series, revealed he thinks about acts of violence and sometimes finds himself looking for a fight. Knowing this, the interrogators aggressively confront Chris to see how he responds. Before the challenge began Chris spoke about the difficult relationship he has with his anger. He said: 

“With me anger, it’s been such a rocky road all the way through my life, especially when I lost my brother. 

“Imagine a heartbeat monitor, that’s my emotions constantly.” 

During Chris’ interrogation, the DS and other interrogators watch his progress from another room and are impressed by him. ‘The Umpire’ said: 

“Never broke eye contact, good on ya son. 

“He’s managing it really well.” 

Even when the interrogator positions his face inches away from Chris’ and shouts “p****” so loudly that you can almost feel his spit landing on your face, recruit 25 doesn’t flinch. 

‘The Umpire’ explains the different techniques each recruit will be exposed to as each of the interrogators is different. It’s important to have a range of capabilities so they can create the right environment for each recruit to give in and reveal important details from the cover story. 

One interrogator is especially good at shouting and being critical, picking at an already exposed emotional wound. 

Another interrogator plays the role of someone who cares about the kidnapped recruits and offers them comfort.

SAS Who Dares Wins 2020 Chris Interrogation Episode 6 Credit: Channel 4
Credit: Channel 4

For recruit James, who was born into a gangster family “well known around Bradford for all the wrong reasons”, the interrogators choose the more caring approach. 

In a previous episode, the DS discovered that James has a thick skin because of the violence he grew up with. When James was 18, his father was on the run from the police after stealing £1,000,000 from some ‘big guys’. He said:  

“About a month later they came and attacked us. Four or five men came out with balaclavas on, sprayed me in the face with some mace and hit me with a metal bar.  

“I could hear my Mum screaming. They were trying to kill us.” 

Now determined to live an honest, positive life, together with his brother, James owns an Estate Agency and often gives lectures at Bradford University on how to run a successful business. On how his criminal past still influences his current life, including SAS Who Dares Wins, James said: 

“I still do take snippets from my past to help to see a wolf in sheep's clothing when it arrives.”

Video: Channel 4

At this stage, the recruits have been awake for 23 hours with very little food or water, constantly kept in stress positions and forced to listen to distressing sounds like a baby crying while hooded. All their senses are cranked to the max. 

Recruit 23 Elouise is pushed far beyond her physical and mental limit and is withdrawn from the challenge by mental health specialist and Chief Medical Advisor Dr Sundeep Chohan, after collapsing in the holding room. 

In a shocking twist to the series never seen before, interrogators discover notes recruit 6 Nicola had written two days before the challenge began, blowing the cover story for the entire team.

Video: Channel 4

Nicola and Kim are brought in for interrogation together. The approach for them, however, is very different from James. The aggressive, tall interrogator is chosen to bully and dominate them. He shames Nicola in front of Kim for keeping the notes on her. 

She is given the opportunity to come clean but chooses not to. Kim then, very calmly, explains that so far, they have all been using a cover story to hide that they are, in fact, ‘military personnel’. The DS are impressed by her response and say she is “playing it well, really, really well.” 

Video: Channel 4 / Contains Swearing

Chris, Carla and James are then brought in to speak with the previously ‘caring’ interrogator who shocks them all by becoming aggressive and demanding they reveal the truth about the cover story. Carla’s face reveals a sense of broken trust between her and the female interrogator who had previously hugged and consoled her while she cried about being dragged on the floor. 

All three eventually admit to all knowing and working with each other as part of the ‘military’. 

After realising she had blown the cover story for all the recruits, Nicola asks to speak to ‘The Umpire’ to voluntarily withdraw herself. 

It’s at this point that normality returns and the DS show how much they care for the mental health of the recruits. Nicola feels as though she has “let everybody down” and, overwhelmed by responsibility and sadness, starts to cry. DS Billy offers Nicola a hug and reminds her to take a breath as she is almost hyperventilating. 

Before the series began, Nicola spoke about how her Dad worked alongside the SAS but never spoke about where he went or what he did. She said: 

“He is my hero. I just want to be like him so if I can go through this and get as far as I can, I can have a little bit of insight into what he went through.” 

SAS Who Dares Wins 2020 Recruit Cage Episode 6 Credit: Channel 4
Credit: Channel 4

After withdrawing, the DS allow Nicola to speak to her family. While speaking with her Dad she expresses how upset she is that she is leaving the series so close to the end. To her, it feels as though all that effort was for nothing. Her Dad responds warmly and said: 

“It wasn’t for nothing. It’s a life experience that you’ll never forget. 

“We’re really, really proud of what you’ve done. Don’t beat yourself up, it’s not the end of the world.” 

With only four recruits left, the brutal interrogation phase ends but, their plight is far from over and a day of brutal sickeners awaits them, aimed at pushing the recruits to breaking point and forcing them to quit.

Sickener 

The recruits now face one of the most dangerous underwater tasks ever featured in the series – ‘drownproofing’ - a technique used in Navy Seals Special Forces training. 

In the freezing Scottish waters, the drownproofing will test recruits’ mental resolve by simulating drowning and assessing their ability to follow instruction. Only the physically and mentally elite will make it to the end. Foxy said: 

“The sickener is there to simulate war, because in war it's never just over. 

“When the tank’s empty it’s about finding that extra bit of grit and determination when you didn’t think you needed it.” 

The four recruits are split into two teams and tasked with undertaking three gruelling stages. First, they must carry their partner up the mountain over their shoulder then complete a near-vertical three-kilometre run over loose rocks. Finally, the recruits face an endurance run with the DS. The last one to finish will be culled from the course.

 
Video: Channel 4

Halfway through the run, Kim falls over and puts her position in jeopardy as she was third at the time. However, she manages to maintain her position which means Carla comes last and is culled. 

Even though Carla is disappointed she didn’t make it all the way to the end she isn’t completely disheartened. Recalling her time as an Olympic rower for Great Britain at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 she said: 

“Two years ago, I got a card and it just said, once an Olympian always an Olympian and sometimes I have to remind myself. 

“It’s true, I’m an Olympian and I’ll always have that.” 

Video: Channel 4

Downproofing 

The final three recruits have one more test to prove to the DS they deserve to pass the course. ‘Drownproofing’ is the ultimate mental test and something not seen before on SAS Who Dares Wins. Foxy said: 

“It is a way of teaching people not to panic in f****** terrifying situations. 

“It’s about going against all your natural survival instincts and following instruction.” 

With their wrists bound together, the recruits must fully exhale and submerge into the turbulent, freezing water. Once they have sunk to the bottom, they must bounce back to the top for air and repeat the process for five minutes. This process is made all the more difficult because of being situated under a waterfall making the undercurrent far stronger. 

Weak swimmer Kim is the first to take on the challenge but is removed after two attempts due to safety concerns. Because of this, Ant withdraws Kim from the course. With Kim on the verge of tears, Ant congratulations her for getting so far and embraces her in a rare moment of affection. 

Now, there are only two recruits left, James and Chris. Will there be one winner, unlike last year, or will they both make the grade? 

SAS Who Dares Wins 2020 Downproofing Episode 6 Credit: Channel 4
Credit: Channel 4

Before the series started, James spoke about his family's gangster past and the part he played. He said: 

“I was really weak. Ironically, to portray myself as a tough person, I was quite the opposite. 

“A stronger person would have said, no, I don’t want to be involved in gangs. 

Overwhelmed by his memories of that time, James takes a moment to gather himself before continuing to speak. Eventually, he said: 

“There’s nothing I can do now.” 

Chris is up next but struggles to exhale properly so only touches the bottom nine times and for the time, fails a challenge. He wanted to take part in SAS Who Dares Wins to prove he was in total control of his own emotions and thoughts. In a previous episode, Chris spoke about why he has previously struggled with managing his aggression. Chris said: 

“The reason I wanted to join this course is because I’ve never forgave myself for the way I was with my brother. 

“I was around 16 years old and he tragically died in a motorbike accident. 

The DS ask how that made him feel. Chris said: 

“At the time I was a little bit confused. I didn’t really know how to feel. I didn’t really understand my own emotions.

SAS Who Dares Wins 2020 Ollie Recruits Episode 6 Credit: Channel 4
Credit: Channel 4

At the end of the course, the DS decide both Chris and James have passed the course. The relief that washes over both recruits is palpable, and the DS encourage the winners to let express their emotions run free. About their personal success on the course Ant says: 

“Everything that we expect from a potential Special Forces operator, you two have in abundance. 

“We see the strengths and weaknesses but combine those together and you two would fit very well into a Special Forces team.” 

Both James and Chris have proved they can leave their turbulent pasts behind and use that experience to become better versions of themselves. 

Video: Channel 4 / Contains Swearing

Pictures: Channel 4

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