In the final episode of the latest series of Celebrity SAS Who Dares Wins, the recruit's instincts are tested when they are pitted against each other during the resistance to interrogation challenge.
With only six recruits left out of 12, can they cope with the pain and keep their minds sharp to prove themselves worthy of completing the course?
At the beginning of the episode the recruits are still trying to evade capture and make their way to the next rendezvous point (RV). Team Alpha, made up of Hollyoaks actress Nikki Sanderson, Rudimental musician DJ Locksmith and former world champion professional boxer Tony Bellew, find their way to a caravan where they are instructed to wait for their next detail while they drink something warm and eat cake. This is much to the amusement of the drum ‘n’ bass star. He said:
“These people got me eating cake in a caravan … in Scotland.
“I’m black, I’m from Hackney, this shouldn’t be happening.
“I shouldn’t be out here. I’m done with this.”
Three kilometres behind Team Bravo are Team Alpha, made up on British Paralympic athlete Laurean Steadman, TV presenter Helen Skelton and reality TV star Joey Essex. They have been instructed to meet an agent on the road who will take them to their next RV. The relief on their faces is clear to see as they sit in the back of the vehicle and are able to rest their blistered feet at last. Chief Instructor Ant Middleton talks about his own dramatic experience during ‘Escape And Evasion’ training. He said:
“I remember … getting into a van and the last agent was a double agent.
“The van screeched to a halt all of a sudden. One of the doors opened and a hand came in and grabbed my pal by the face and literally ripped him out of the van.
“I can just remember thinking to myself, here we go.”
Just as Ant describes, Team Alpha are ambushed and captured by the enemy wearing balaclavas and brandishing guns in their faces. This is where having the right instincts are absolutely crucial. The recruits must stay calm and collected. They will want to defend themselves physically but that will only cause more problems.
Video: Channel 4
Oblivious to their fellow recruits' fate, Team Bravo sit comfortably in the caravan until they are also ambushed by the same group. Jason ‘Foxy’ Fox gives us an insight into how it feels to be captured during this phase of the course. He said:
“There’s an element of relief when you get captured at the end of ‘escape and evasion’ but then that relief is short lived.
“The next thing you know, you’re in a very uncomfortable situation and you’ve just realised it’s the start of another phase which is probably the most brutal.
“Not all of them are going to get through this.”
It’s at this point that Ant and the Directing Staff (DS) of Foxy, Billy Billingham, Ollie Ollerton and Jay Morton hand over the reins to resistance to interrogation specialists
The recruits will need to prove they are physically and mentally robust enough to survive the most psychologically demanding of all the phases - interrogation.
What Is Resistance To Interrogation?
‘Resistance to interrogation’ is a vital stage of SAS selection. It prepares recruits for enemy capture by subjecting them to techniques not permitted by Britain’s armed forces.
Shaking from exhaustion and freezing temperatures, the recruits have their hands bound together and are hooded before being driven back to base. Helen explains that the reason she decided to put herself through such an ordeal is so that her two young sons think she’s cool. She said:
“Their Dad’s a real alpha male, sporty character so, of course, Daddy’s golden boy to them.
“I ... want them to look at me and think that Mummy’s badass for once.”
Fight, Flight Or Freeze?
First to face the interrogators is Team Bravo – Helen, Lauren and Joey. ‘Dilksy’, one of the interrogators, gives the viewers an insight into what it’s like when your first captured. He said:
“Until you’re in that environment you don’t know how you’re going to react.
“Fight, flight or freeze?”
In a moment likely to raise a smile among the viewers, Helen tries to escape her hostage takers by slowly creeping away while hooded and with her hands tied. Little does she realise that she is being watched by her interrogators. Knowing the recruits can’t see them as they are hooded, the interrogators crack out a smile. Eventually Helen makes a dart for it but doesn’t make it very far before she is brought back. At this point Dilksy, rather unsettlingly, whispers in her ear “nice f***ing try”.
Video: Channel 4
Over the next 13 hours, the recruits endure a series of interrogations but first they are processed. This involves each recruit undressing down to their underwear, putting on dark blue overalls and answering a series of questions about who they are and why they are on the Isle Of Raasay just off the mainland of Scotland. Joey Essex perfectly describes the dynamic of the recruits’ relationship with the interrogators when he said:
“In this field, I’m a pussy, I’m nothing and I’m being put in my place.
“They’re like God here, I’m nothing, I’m bull**** so I’ve got to respect that.”
The interrogations are run by a specialist, experienced unit but the whole challenge is overseen by a man who cannot be identified on camera for security reasons. He refers to himself as ‘The Umpire’ and introduces himself to each recruit. He makes it very clear that if at any point a recruit feels as though they would like to voluntarily withdraw (VW) themselves or would like to see a medic, they must put their hand up and ask to speak to him.
Video: Channel 4
The day before the interrogation challenge the recruits were given a cover story to use if they were captured to keep the true purpose of their mission a secret. Ollie makes it very clear that if they feel as though keeping the cover story will put their fellow recruits in danger, they must change tact immediately. He said:
“If it’s clearly obvious that by your actions or your words people are going to get killed, you need to then go to your real story.”
Next to be interrogated is Tony. Watching from another room Ant said:
“His aggression is through the roof but the transformation in the seven days has been phenomenal.
“Honestly ... out of all of them, it’s the biggest transformation I’ve seen.
“He has the potential of losing it though and going back to that fucking hand grenade.”
While changing into his overalls Tony answers each question confidently. Almost too confidently for the DS’ liking. Billy said:
“He’s getting too cocky. He needs ragging about a bit and taking control of.
“See what he’s like later on when he’s f***ing really cold and tired.”
Four hours in and the recruits are really feeling the pain and discomfort. DS Ollie reveals, from his own experience, that eventually the celebrities will be desperate to be interrogated just to relieve the pain. He said:
“At points I was stood there naked, very exposed, literally … and you can hear someone around you.
“Someone’s in your space, you can hear them breathing down the back of your neck.
“You can’t wait to be interrogated, just to stop the discomfort.”
Next, it’s Joey’s turn to face his interrogator. The DS immediately realise that he doesn’t remember his cover story and won’t reveal any minor details about his teammates which, in a real-life situation, would put the safety of his fellow recruits at risk.
DS Billy explains why it’s so important for the captured recruits to reveal some information to the interrogators. He said:
“You have to have the instincts and judgement to decide when to release information.
“Releasing no information at all will only make you … and the rest of your team, vulnerable.”
Video: Channel 4
The Umpire is surprised that Joey is trying to be sensible and not playing the “village idiot”. Sadly, this tactic doesn't work for Joey, so the DS put him and Lauren in dog cages outside, guarded by some dogs behaving aggressively as punishment.
Just before this terrifying ordeal Lauren is shown a clip of Joey, trying to protect his fellow recruits, claiming that the other recruits aren’t famous like him. He said:
“They’re not celebrities, they don’t do what I do, I don’t know who they are.”
Showing Lauren this clip is an attempt by the interrogator to break the bond between herself and Joey. She does’ot fall for this tactic. Instead, she comes to Joey’s defence by saying:
“Can I say one thing in his defence?
“He’s had a very, very rough childhood.”
This is a reference to how drastically Joey’s life changed after his Mother committed suicide when he was ten-years-old. Since then, he has been left unable to trust in others. He said:
"One day she was there and one day she was gone."
Facing each other in their cages, Joey still claims he doesn’t know who Lauren is, even after she admits to knowing him. This enrages the interrogators who call him “a piece of s***”.
To have a chance of surviving interrogation, some information has to eventually be drip fed to the people questioning you otherwise your life is useless. The situation has to be assessed very carefully.
Video: Channel 4
Nearly 24 hours in, and Tony is finding it more and more difficult to cope in stress positions. The interrogators bring him in for questioning, but he is adamant he won’t reveal any information about his teammates. In previous series of SAS Who Dares Wins, the interrogators have used incredibly aggressive techniques to encourage a physical response from recruits.
However, with Tony, they steer away from that. Before the final episode aired, Tony was asked whether he thought the interrogators were too scared to be aggressive towards him because he’s a world champion professional boxer. He said:
“Nah, I don’t believe that for a minute me. When someone’s pointing a gun in your face, I don’t think someone’s fists are going to frightening them at all.”
It is decided that Tony will not break. His loyalty and perseverance mean that if we were in a real hostile environment, he would have been killed by now. Because of this he is withdrawn from the course. This devastates Tony and moves him to tears. After a much-appreciated hug from Ant Tony reveals just how much taking part in the course has changed his life. He said:
“I just can’t snitch mate.
“It’s changed what I want to do with my life going forward.
“Going home, I’ve got so many things I want to change and sort out.”
Tony explains that, for him, boxing is not a hobby but a way of life. He has “selfishly” put his passion for boxing above spending time with his wife and children for many years but since retiring has discovered new priorities. He said:
“Time is what you need to give your kids. Just time and love.”
“Playing Dumb Isn’t Going To Get You Anywhere”
In the final stage of the interrogation challenge, there are only five recruits left – Joey, Nikki, Helen, DJ Locksmith and Lauren. Joey is given another opportunity to tell the interrogators the names of his teammates, but he refuses to do so. Because of this, the interrogators threaten to punish each recruit whose name he claims not to know. Right at the last second Joey eventually gives in and talks. However, this seems to have been his final straw because when back alone with his interrogator Joey’s demeanor changes and he appears to have become tired of the game. When the interrogators try to get his hood back on he laughs and says:
“F*** this s***.”
Speaking with Umpire and Ant, Joey admits he is frustrated that he didn’t make it all the way to the end. He was convinced he had it in him to win. Speaking before the show aired Joey said:
“I know my Mum’s proud of me.
“She's looking down on me and pushing me and it’s made me a really, really strong person you know?”
Who’s Going To Spill The Beans?
The DS now need to figure out who should eventually win out of the four final remaining recruits. It comes down to who will and who won’t reveal more information about why the celebrities are there.
The recruits are exhausted, hungry and freezing cold but they must now endure having ice cold water poured over their heads one by one until someone breaks. Ant said:
“There comes a time when you piss off the interrogators so much that you must give them something.
“If you don’t then you’ll end up dead.”
Video: Channel 4
DJ Locksmith eventually decides to reveal some more information to the interrogators so that he and his fellow recruits don’t suffer anymore. After this, Lauren also steps up and reveals they have all been learning “military-based skills”.
The interrogators then decide to pair Lauren with Nikki and DJ Locksmith with Helen to see whether the actress and TV presenter will tell the truth after realising their fellow recruits have already done so. Both Nikki and Helen waste the interrogators time by not revealing any information and get VWd from the course.
Helen is pleased that she can go back to her children and impress them by telling them stories about her time on SAS Who Dares Wins. She said:
“Now I can go home and say, ‘I did something cool today’.”
Of the 12 recruits who began only two remain, DJ Locksmith and Lauren Steadman. The DS have been impressed by both recruits throughout the course. They’ve had their ups and downs but overall have given their all, both physically and mentally.
The musician and British Paralympic athlete are eventually ‘rescued’ by the DS and brought to a cliff's edge to discover that they have both passed the SAS selection course.
The relief that rushes across their faces after realising they have won SAS Who Dares Wins is incredibly moving. They’re both almost too exhausted to enjoy the moment and fall into the arms of the DS for support and comfort.
If you missed any episodes you can watch the entire series on All4 now.