SAS: Who Dares Wins 2021 cast: full list of contestants in new series of Channel 4 show - and when it’s on TV

Ant Middleton and Ollie Ollerton were dropped from the show - but Melvyn Downes joins as a new DS

Connor, Kieran and Justine all take on mental and physical challenges as new recruits (Picture: Channel 4)
Connor, Kieran and Justine all take on mental and physical challenges as new recruits (Picture: Channel 4)

Channel 4 has released the details of the 21 new recruits who take on gruelling challenges as part of this year’s SAS: Who Dares Wins.

Ant Middleton has been confirmed as a member of the drill squad for this year also, despite being axed by the channel in March.

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He will be joined by his team of directing staff, Mark 'Billy' Billingham, Jason 'Foxy' Fox, and new DS, Melvyn Downes.

So, who are the 21 new recruits? This is everything you need to know.

Recruit 3 - Justine

Age: 19

From: Brescia, Italy but now lives in Truro, Cornwall

Profession: Self Employed

Justine is the youngest recruit ever to feature on SAS: Who Dares Wins.

She grew up in Northern Italy, before moving to the UK, with hopes of joining the army or working for the UN.

Aged 13, she lost her mum to breast cancer and has been training as a bodybuilder since she was 15.

Despite being the youngest contestant, she has already climbed Everest Base Camp and the Three Passes Trek in Nepal. She is a member of the army cadets and was an expedition leader in Canada.

Reminiscing about her time on the show, she said: “I left a completely changed person. I learnt more there than in my 18 years of life.

“Since I was 15, I have been training in bodybuilding, sailing competitively at an international level and two years ago I started CrossFit, so I’ve always been physically strong, but I wanted to put my mind to the test too.”

She said her first thought on her 18th birthday was that she could now apply for the show.

Recruit 7 - Lauren

Age: 31

Profession: Sport and Fitness Channel Manager

From: St Helens, Cheshire

Lauren was brought up by her mum, who taught her never to fear anyone or anything.

She showed sporting potential at a young age, competed nationally and internationally in netball, hockey, golf, rounders, and football. At 16 she was awarded the National Young Sportswoman award.

However, she admits that having identified as gay, she felt she needed to live up to the stereotypes she thought represented the gay community.

In turn, she gave up her sporting career to party, socialise and work, which she says she now regrets.

At 23, she realised she could be herself while also being gay and shifted her priorities back to training. Her return to training motivated her to apply for the show – to prove that she truly is one of the fittest women in the UK.

Reflecting on what she learned on the show, she said: “The series has given me the best gift – it highlighted skills, allowed me to nurture them and has given me more skills that I now use to do the best I can in life.”

Recruit 8 - Esther

Age: 28

Profession: Aesthetician/Dancer

From: Ascot

Previously employed as a stripper, Esther refers to herself as a rebellious teenager who began working at the strip club to fund a tattoo apprenticeship. She also became involved with alcohol and drugs.

In 2019, she was involved in a serious car accident as she left work, later charged with drink driving and decided to quit her job and decided to pursue a healthier lifestyle.

She admitted taking part in the show was much tougher than she anticipated, saying: “It was the most brutal thing I have ever experienced, but I am utterly grateful to be one of very few people that will ever experience this.”

Recruit 11 - Rebekah

Age: 43

Profession: Solicitor and Personal Training Gym Owner

From: Bristol

Raised in a mormon family, Rebekah said her experience on the show allowed her to finally free herself “from over 35 years of abuse and control, which I have allowed others to have over me.”

She says she never felt at home in the mormon community, especially when she was made homeless at 16 years old.

Following this difficult period, she went on to re-sit her GCSEs and A Levels and studied to become a lawyer. She now focuses on her career, running a personal training gym and being a mother.

Rebekah said of her SAS experience: “I was completely out of my comfort zone, but this was a once in a lifetime experience and an opportunity to meet truly inspirational and amazing people.”

Recruit 12 - Reanne

Age: 29

Profession: Personal Trainer

From: From Huddersfield (but now lives in Leeds)

Reanne grew up in an area known for drug and gang violence.

She was also abused as a child but did not acknowledge these experiences until she was a teenager.

While at secondary school, Reanne struggled with her sexuality, using sport to overcome her inner battles. She went on to play rugby for Yorkshire RUFC in 2016 and 2017, which she considers one of her biggest achievements.

Asked about how difficult she found the show’s challenges, she said: “I’d consider myself a very active person who tests my boundaries but nothing can compare to the tests within this series.

“I have never been pushed to that extreme and felt so much love and hate towards an experience that has helped me grow into a stronger version of myself.”

Recruit 13 - Holly

Age: 32

Profession: Circus Artist/Project Manager

From: Manchester but living in Derby

Holly was born male and identifies as transgender. Growing up, Holly would dress up in her mum’s clothes and aged 25, she moved away for work and began living part-time as Holly.

Now a three-time aerial champion, Holly said she lost many lifelong friends when she decided to transition and feared leaving the house as she was subject to horrific verbal abuse.

She said aerial dance gave her the opportunity to express herself and be accepted for being different.

She has now performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and in Burlesque shows.

Holly signed up for the show to battle her own insecurities, she said: “What woman wants to date a 6’4 trans muscle queen?

“So one of the reasons I signed up was because with my mental health issues and feeling like I was going to be single for the rest of my life, having never had a relationship, I needed to do something to prove to myself that no matter what life throws at me I’m going to be okay.”

Recruit 17 - Shireen

Age: 28

Profession: Entrepreneur

Hometown: North London

Previously, Shireen worked as a police community support officer in the Met Police.

Despite her experience, she said taking part in the show was not what she expected. Shireen said: “Having watched the series every year, what you see on TV is nothing compared to the real thing.

“It was an eye opener for me to even start to think what real people in the SAS are actually exposed to and it made me question how there can be people in this world selfless enough to put their minds and bodies through torment in order to save others’ lives.”

Shireen grew up in a Pakistani family and was bullied in school. She was not allowed to wear makeup, as well as having to cover up her body.

She is now a successful entrepreneur based in North London, with ethical beauty clinics for women in London, as well as a tech company. Her hobbies include horse-riding, polo, travelling and driving supercars.

Recruit 18 - Tyler

Age: 28

Profession: Online Fitness Coach

From: Carlisle, Cumbria

A former professional bodybuilder, Tyler grew up on a farm before her parents split when she was 14 years old.

Now a successful online fitness coach, Tyler served 12 months in prison for conspiracy to sell class A and B drugs when she was 21.

This tumultuous period of her life came after she gave birth to her first son at 20 and suffered severe postpartum psychosis.

She said her time on the show was life changing, commenting: “It pushed me beyond both my mental and physical limits and really helped me understand so much about myself.

“It has to be my ultimate journey of self-discovery, from both a mental and physical perspective.”

Recruit 20 - Hannah

Age: 36

Profession: Lawyer

From: Hampshire

Hannah’s father is a former paratrooper and she describes herself as an ‘army baby’. She has since also married a marine and was drawn to a career in the military, but instead trained as a solicitor.

Hannah told how her husband has struggled, as many ex-military do, to settle back into civilian life, and that this has had a profound effect on her marriage. She says that she signed up for the show to help save her relationship.

She said the show was “one of the most affirming, positive, challenging, rewarding, frightening, exposing experiences of my life.”

“While I have a couple of minor regrets (backward dive…) I will always remember the friends, the DS, the lessons and the improvements and strength it has brought about in me as a person.”

Recruit 21 - Phoebe

Age: 30

Profession: Telecoms account executive

From: Farnham, Surrey

Bodybuilder and telecoms account executive Phoebe already follows a meticulous diet and exercise regime as she competes in female bodybuilding competitions.

She experienced bulimia growing up and although she now has a positive and healthy relationship with food and her body, her motivation to take part in the show was to increase her confidence and self acceptance.

Reflecting on her time as a recruit, she admits she would be no good in the real Special Forces, as taking part in the challenges was “one of the hardest things” she’s done in her life.

She added: “It’s very easy to sit and watch it on TV and say you would smash it but once you’re in amongst it all and doing it, it’s a very different story.”

Recruit 1: Ricky

Age: 39

Profession: Firefighter

From: London

Working as a firefighter in London, Ricky has spent 15 years working as a fireman in his local area and was on call during the Grenfell Tower fire.

Since the event, he has suffered with PTSD and guilt after being unable to save one of the building’s occupants, but relies on his support network and counselling to get him through.

Admitting he was drunk when he applied for the show, Ricky said he needed a purpose and route out of his unhealthy habits.

He said: “In all honesty, I was drunk and a bit lost. I needed a purpose. I needed a cause. I needed a reason to stop drinking. To stop taking drugs and to refocus my pain onto something positive that will help me heal instead of wallow in self-pity and despair. Instead of a life of guilt, I chose a life of closure and hope.”

Recruit 2 - John

Age: 39

Profession: Tattooist

From: Brighton

John describes himself as a bit of a cheeky chap, who needed to learn to take direction from authority without getting defensive.

Growing up with deaf parents, he pushed boundaries and as a teenager, he was heading down a dangerous path of partying, drinking and rebelling. He used fitness to turn his life around and get back on track.

John said that he was brought to tears while taking part in the show and this is exactly what he needed.

He said: “It was an amazing experience. I wanted to be broken to the point of tears and that’s exactly what happened but I fought through it and pushed myself like I’ve never done before.

“I’m a cheeky chap caked in tattoos who started off being mouthy, but after one day I decided to stop. I went on the show to learn to listen more and not get my back up every time someone tells me what to do.”

Recruit 4 - Sean

Age: 31

Profession: Sports teacher and Head of Year

From: Manchester

Sean grew up in Moss Side, Manchester, where he witnessed violence and shootings.

He experienced severe racism when he moved to East Manchester with his mother, while his father served a decade-long jail term. In a bid to stop the abuse, he began engaging in fighting and in his early 20s, he found himself mixed up with the wrong crowd.

However, he has now turned his life around and is a sports teacher and the head of year 10 at his school.

On why he signed up for SAS: Who Dares Wins, Sean said: “The first lockdown really affected my mental health. I struggled to find routine and also had some personal issues I was dealing with. The thought of being away in an unknown location without any contact with the outside world was really positive and gave me something to focus my mind on.”

Recruit 6 - Jake

Age: 28

Profession: Works in the Fitness Industry

Hometown: London

Londoner Jake said he was motivated to take part in the show as he felt at a loss after losing his girlfriend, Emily Hartridge, in a car accident two years ago.

He works in the fitness industry and actively encourages conversations around mental health on his Instagram and YouTube pages.

Jake said he felt he “had given up in life without Emily”, but taking part on the show and abseiling down a cliff proved he “still had some fight left.”

Recruit 9 - DJ

Age: 35

Profession: Salon Owner

From: Bedford

DJ admits he went through somewhat of a ‘midlife crisis’, ensuing from a divorce from his wife of 13 years.

He shifted his priorities and gave up banking to open several children’s hair salons, strove to get fitter, got tattoos and started drinking for the first time.

DJ says SAS: Who Dares Wins was probably one of the best individual experiences of his life. “This was a money can’t buy experience. Whilst on the course, I thought I would never miss the course of the punishments. However, once I got home, I missed being part of the course, quite severely. I missed the company and the friends and the whole experience.”

Recruit 10 - Kieran

Recruit: 10

Age: 25

Profession: Dental Engineer/Electrician

From: South London, now living in Cornwall

Kieran was a high performer throughout school, despite having a speech impediment which he feels has held him back.

Instead of surrendering to his low self-esteem, he became Young Mayor of Lewisham at age 16 and spoke at national and international conferences. However, he said he wishes to overcome the impediment fully and this played a part in why he applied for the show.

“It was in many ways a defining moment for me, the Kieran before and the Kieran after SAS: Who Dares Wins,” he says of his experience on the show. “I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on the process . How it pushed me to my absolute limits and how I was able to do that. It was a journey that mainly occurred within my head. I had to have a lot of conversations with myself, and I found that I was able to sort out issues and problems just through thought.”

Recruit 14 - Jamie

Age: 41

Profession: Business Owner

From: Rugeley, Staffs

Keen football player Jamie showed sporting potential from a young age, being made captain of every team he played for. During this time, aged 11-13, he was abused by a football coach and did not tell anyone.

It was in 2018 that he revealed the extent of his abuse to police, after a famous footballer also named the coach as having abused him. Jamie has received counselling ever since, funded by the Football Association, and now runs a successful fitness business.

Jamie was inspired to go on the show in order to shake off a fear or failure and lack of confidence, adding he had never taken part in something “so physically and mentally draining, this [show] is on a different level.”

Recruit 15 - Alan

Age: 37

Profession: Personal Trainer

Hometown: Bristol

Alan lost his eye to a tumour in 2020, as it was removed to stop cancer spreading to his liver.

He is awaiting an eye transplant but this had not taken place prior to taking part in SAS: Who Dares Wins, due to Covid delays.

He is a successful personal trainer and his loss of sight motivated him to take part in the challenging experience, as he wanted to prove to himself that he is still as able and capable as he was before his experience with cancer.

On why he wanted to sign up for the show, Alan says: “I wanted to show how even though I lost my eye, I would never class myself as disabled and I could and still do the same things other people can do.”

Recruit 16 - Connor

Age: 30

Profession: Professional Irish Dancer

From: Newtownards, Northern Ireland

Professional Irish Dancer Connor was teased at school for his dancing talent, admitting he nearly gave up on his potential due to bullies.

He credits his mum with pushing him to continue performing and has since performed with Lord of the Dance around the world, in the West End and on Broadway. His is also setting up his own dance school.

Connor wanted to shake the stereotype of dancers and prove that he is tough enough to undergo the grueling training regime.

He said: “I’ve always been teased about being a wimp, girly and called gay because of my passion.”

He hopes to show other young male dancers that “ you can be strong, tough and overcome obstacles that are put in front of you. That it doesn't matter what other people think, if you have a passion then pursue that passion with all your strength and heart.”

Recruit 19 - Adam

Age: 34

Occupation: Recruitment warehouse supervisor/Part-time actor and model

From: Cardiff

Former drug dealer Adam became involved in selling drugs at the age of 16. He grew up catholic but rebelled against authority, at 24 years old he was convicted for intent to supply drugs and was sentenced to five years in prison, he served two and a half.

He has since given up his rebellious behaviour and works as a warehouse supervisor. He said he was constantly anxious during his time on the show, never sure of what to expect next.

He added: “There was nowhere to hide, I was sleep deprived, hungry, wet, emotional. But in the same breath, I got to see amazing scenery from top of the hills/mountains we climbed.”

When is SAS: Who Dares Wins back on TV?

SAS: Who Dares Wins 2021 begins on Sunday 9th May at 9pm on Channel 4.

It will then air weekly on Sundays.

You can also catch up on 4oD.