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Leeches, claustrophobia and extreme discomfort: What the new SAS Who Dares Wins recruits will face

Video: Billy Billingham speaks about his own experience of jungle warfare training and what the recruits will face on this series of SAS Who Dares Wins.

From 100% humidity and blood-sucking leeches to extreme claustrophobia and incessant jungle noise, 20 new SAS Who Dares Wins recruits are heading into a brutal environment that's out to get them – a Vietnamese jungle.

Newly crowned Chief Instructor Billy Billingham and latest member of the Directing Staff (DS) Chris Oliver have spoken about what the recruits should expect in the latest savage jungle warfare-focused series of the Channel 4 show.

Billingham's own military career started in 1984 when, after passing out in Depot Para, he headed straight to the jungle, but it wasn't what he expected at all, saying: "My experience of the jungle was watching ******* Tarzan so I thought, wow, this is going to be great, I'm going to see elephants, lions, this is going to be cool. 

"And then you get out there and then you step off the plane and I thought I was behind the jet wash of the aircraft when I stepped off the plane in Belize. 

"My clothes were dropping off me and then realised as I walked across the Tarmac, this is it, 100% humidity." 

The new Chief Instructor isn't under any illusions. He knows SAS Who Dares Wins is a TV show but there are similarities between the six-month Special Forces selection course and the condensed 12-day Channel 4 version. 

He said: "It's about you coming on the course where you're gonna be pushed physically and mentally to a place you've never been to see if you've got the self-motivation, the discipline, the respect and the drive to go a little bit further." 

And it's this extra energy to keep going when the recruits are at their wits' end that sees them to the end of the course. 

However, the jungle adds another barrier to success – can these recruits accept extreme discomfort and carry out the tasks to the best of their ability? 

He said: "For those people that get to the end of [the show] I think, well you know what, you did what I did, what Chris did. 

"You accepted it. This is ******* horrible, this is not nice, this is uncomfortable. 

"There's going to be leeches on me, I'm going to be sweating in every crease, I'm going to be rubbed by everything, I'm gonna put wet clothes on every day. 

"I remember all those horrible things and for those who get to the end of it... respect to them, that's a lot." 

SAS Who Dares Wins Series 8 Ep 1 From left to right are DS Rudy Reyes, Chris Oliver, Billy Billingham (Chief Instructor) and Jason 'Foxy' Fox CREDIT Channel 4
The SAS Who Dares Wins: Jungle Hell DS are (from left to right) Rudy Reyes, Chris Oliver, new Chief Instructor Billy Billingham and Jason 'Foxy' Fox (Picture: Channel 4).

Billingham says that the first time the jungle was featured on SAS Who Dares Wins, it was "a bit raw because the show was still really in its infancy". 

According to Billingham, this series is similar to but not exactly the same as a proper jungle warfare course where recruits learn how to survive, live and fight in the jungle. 

When it comes to creating tasks suitable for the jungle, he said: "The truth is, the land will tell you what you can do and every jungle is different. 

"No two jungles are the same." 

SAS Who Dares Wins Series 8 Episode 1 Pic 1 CREDIT Channel 4
None of these recruits have any form of military training (Picture: Channel 4).

SAS Who Dares Wins being set in the jungle means this year's recruits must get comfortable with being uncomfortable and learn how to keep going when they have been pushed to what they thought were their mental and physical limits. 

Anything that gets in the way of the recruits completing the tasks is just unnecessary distraction, a pointless background noise. 

He said: "Those who drag that noise behind them ain't gonna go nowhere. 

"Being knocked on your **** doesn't mean you fail unless you go, 'I'm done'. That's a fail, giving up. 

"Hats off to those who get to that position, it's a great achievement for them and we respect that." 

SAS Who Dares Wins Series 8 Episode 1 Pic 2 CREDIT Channel 4
The challenges become more difficult as the course progresses to see who can push past their own mental and physical barriers (Picture: Channel 4).

There's one thing many viewers have probably thought – how do the recruits cope with the inevitable blisters? 

New DS Chris Oliver is a former Special Forces Operator with 16 years combat experience who served alongside fellow DS Jason 'Foxy' Fox and whose Senior Military Instructor for jungle warfare training was Billingham – however, even with all that military training and experience, he knows just how debilitating a blister can be. 

He said: "Even a small blister can take a man down so it's not about the blisters, it's about how each individual deals with their personal admin. 

"And it's not just your feet, I mean it's every orifice you've got. 

"You'll have leeches, you'll have sweat, you'll have chafing... from the movement, you'll have rubs. 

"Anytime... you're wearing boots... then you add the water, then you add the humidity, then you add the sand, the mud and general **** that you've got and then you add the fact that they're in the boots for 18 hours a day – it's only gonna end in one way." 

Cover image: How will the recruits fare when faced with all the jungle has to throw at them? (Picture: Channel 4).