Is SAS Rogue Heroes a true story? Real events that inspired Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight’s BBC series

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BBC drama series SAS Rogue Heroes follows the early days of one of Britain’s most elite combat units, the Special Air Service

SAS Rogue Heroes is a six-part drama series written and directed by Peaky Blinders creator  Steven Knight. The historical series takes place in 1941 during the Second World War as Britain attempts a daring move to pull one over on the axis powers. The series is based on a history book and is heavily inspired by real events and features characters based on the real men involved in the war effort to rout the Italian and German forces from North Africa.

Rory Mulvey as David Stirling in SAS Rogue HeroesRory Mulvey as David Stirling in SAS Rogue Heroes
Rory Mulvey as David Stirling in SAS Rogue Heroes | BBC/Kudos/Rory Mulvey

What is SAS Rogue Heroes about?

SAS Rogue Heroes sheds light on the origins of the secretive special forces unit, the SAS, and its first missions to undermine the German and Italian forces in North Africa during the Second World War. The SAS remained an active force from their formation in 1941 but disbanded in peacetime - though the unit was revived in 1947. Rogue Heroes focuses on the SAS’s missions behind enemy lines in North Africa in 1941 and 1942.

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Is SAS Rogue Heroes based on a book?

The series is based on the 2016 book - Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War - by British war historian Ben Macintyre.

The nonfiction book explores the formation of the Special Air Service (SAS) during the height of the Second World War under the eccentric officer David Stirling. In 2017 the book was adapted into a three-part BBC documentary series, SAS: Rogue Warriors.

Macintyre’s book relied on previously unseen reports, memos, diaries, letters, maps and photographs from the SAS archives as well as interviews with those who were involved in the early days of the unit.

Cast of SAS Rogue HeroesCast of SAS Rogue Heroes
Cast of SAS Rogue Heroes | BBC/Kudos/Rory Mulvey

Is SAS Rogue Heroes based on a true story?

SAS Rogue Heroes is heavily based on the true story of the birth of the elite British fighting unit  Over six parts, the series follows the idea to parachute a crack fighting unit into the North African desert in 1941. During this time British troops were bogged down in North Africa as they attempted to clear the continent of Axis forces.

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The North African Campaign took place over almost three years across Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The conflict saw British commander Bernard Montgomery and Germany’s Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, chase each other back and forth across the top of the continent, as the British searched for a way to break the deadlock.

Many of the main cast of characters including David Stirling, Lieutenant Colonel Wrangel Clarke, Paddy Mayne, Jock Lewes and Reg Seekings are based on real people who were involved in the SAS’s first combat missions. Ian Davies plays Randolph Churchill, the Prime Minister’s son, who saw action in the North African campaign. Randolph joined Stirling and six SAS men on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines on a raid in Benghazi.

When is SAS Rogue Heroes on TV?

All of the first season of SAS Rogue Heroes is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer. Episodes are also airing weekly, and the second episode will air on BBC One on Sunday 6 November at 9pm.

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