SAS Who Dares Wins Boxing Recruits Louise Nathaniel Ant Middleton CREDIT: Channel 4
Special forces

SAS Who Dares Wins Sparks Controversy Online After Milling Between A Woman And Man

"I would have been disappointed if Nathaniel had held back. The task was about being equal and he completed the task as he should have."

SAS Who Dares Wins Boxing Recruits Louise Nathaniel Ant Middleton CREDIT: Channel 4

Last night’s episode of Channel 4's SAS Who Dares Wins has shocked audiences with many people taking to social media to air their views.

When it was announced that for the first time women would be taking part in SAS Who Dares Wins many people had their concerns but last night’s episode has been called brutal.

A boxing challenge designed to test the recruit’s ability to channel their strength and aggression saw contestants fighting each other.

Every recruit chose an opponent of the same gender until former Special Forces soldier and SAS Who Dares Wins Chief Instructor Ant Middleton said:

“The enemy doesn’t care what f***ing gender you are, f***ing race you are, f***ing religion you are. They just wanna f***ing kill you. Full stop.”

After these strong, no-nonsense words from Ant, midwife Louise Gabbitas was the first recruit to choose a man, student Nathaniel. Before the punch up Ant gave some advice:

“The best form of defence here is attack understood?”

As you can see in the Channel 4 clip below, both recruits didn’t hold back and followed Ant's instructions…

CREDIT: Channel 4

Social media was more or less divided into three camps:

  • People saying, they could never fight a woman
  • People saying well done to Nathaniel for not backing down and doing what was expected of him
  • People saying well done to Louise for not going the easy route
SAS Who Dares Wins Recruit Midwife Louise CREDIT: Channel 4
CREDIT: Channel 4

Speaking after the punch up Louise said in an official statement:

“From the start, we were made aware that we would be treated as equals to the men and that there would be no changes, allowances or exceptions for any of us. Boxing is a regular task featured in each series so I knew it would come up.

"I was so physically and mentally drained I didn’t want to fight anyone. Male or female.

"We were all friends by this point. Gender was irrelevant.  However, I had to do it and it was just another task to me.

"I would have been disappointed if Nathaniel had held back. The task was about being equal and he completed the task as he should have.

"Nathaniel and I have a good relationship. We’ve discussed the situation at length and I understand I put him in a difficult position. I think how he’s handled it is commendable.”

SAS Who Dares Wins Recruit Student Nathaniel CREDIT: Channel 4
CREDIT: Channel 4

After the boxing match, Nathaniel was visibly shocked and said that he "didn't want to pick a girl" but Louise reassures him that she is fine and that she chose him and he had to do it. Nathaniel has since said:

“It was something that I expected to happen as it was the first time women were part of the show.

"Although it was inevitable, and something I tried to mentally prepare myself for, it was one of the most difficult tasks I had to do during the series.”

In a Channel 4 press release published on January 3, Nathaniel commented on whether the women found it harder than the male recruits. He said:

“I think all the recruits found it hard, I think the best of the best was picked for this show.”

After this experience on SAS Who Dares Wins would Louise like to join the real Special Forces?

“No. I am under no illusion that this is a condensed ‘experience’ of the SAS and not a platform to enable me to join.

"I would not like to be in that sort of environment with the added potential of death.

"One of the lines I repeated in my head to get through was ‘they can’t kill you’. I wouldn’t be able to use that in real life.”

This online controversy comes just a few months after Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed in October 2018 that all roles in the British military would be opened to women, including the infantry, Royal Marines and Special Forces.

The lifting of the ban was made in 2016 but the plan was to phase it in slowly explaining why it has taken two years for all roles to now be open for women to apply.

More from Forces Network - Behind The Frontline: A Look Back On Women In The Armed Forces​​​​​​​

However, this doesn’t mean women have been absent from the front line. Many women have served in frontline support roles such as medics and bomb disposal experts for years.