Rogue Heroes is EPIX’s new war drama which follows the founding of the British Special Air Service (SAS).
Starring Connor Swindells, Alfie Allen, and Jack O’Connell as David Stirling, John Steel “Jock” Lewes, and Paddy Mayne, the founding members of the SAS, the show examines the development of the unit.
Here is everything you need to know about the story and how much of the drama really happened, ahead of its premiere on Sunday, November 13.
Is ‘Rogue Heroes’ Based on a True Story?Alfie Allen, Connor Swindells and Jack O’Connell in as Jock Lewes, David Stirling and Paddy Mayne in “Rogue Heroes,” which tells the true story of the founding of the British Army’s Special Air Service unit during World War II.
Rogue Heroes is based on the creation of the real Special Air Service during World War II in 1941.
In real life, the SAS was founded by Scottish British army officer David Stirling, played by Connor Swindells, with the unit operating as a commando unit within the British Army. It focused on operating behind enemy lines to attack the armed forces of the Axis powers.
Stirling, Paddy Mayne and Jock Lewes were three of the groups founding members, with Lewes acting as the training officer, while Mayne helped lead the team alongside Stirling, before taking over the unit.
The EPIX drama is based on Ben Macintyre’s non-fiction history book of the same name, and creator Steven Knight told Newsweek how he used Macintyre’s work and also met with one of the original SAS members, Mike Sadler (played by Tom Glynn-Carney in the show), to tell the unit’s story in the drama.
Knight said Macintyre’s books were “so brilliantly written and comprehensive so they gave [him] an overview of what happened,” and he added: “Then [I] sort of [dug] into the first-hand accounts, I’m always very keen to use first-hand accounts, so the diaries and the accounts of the people who were there.
Outrageously True”So I began to use those as well, and then you have to just take a deep breath and leap into it and start telling that story, so I began telling the story, really affirming Stirling, Paddy Mayne, Jock Lewes, and how those three people who are very different to each other came together to create this extraordinary organization.”
Of how much of the story was true, Knight added: “The things that are so outrageous and wild that you think someone must have made up are actually the true things.
“Often what I had to do with what really happened is to scale it back to make audiences believe it, because the reality was so wild and so bizarre that you audiences would’ve thought ‘that can’t have happened,’ but it did. The things that are the least believable are the most true.”
The Peaky Blinders creator said his time with Sadler helped affirm the way in which the characters should approach their situation, with an air of calm that meant they never felt overwhelmed by the risks they were taking: “The way he would sort of talk about times of great danger when his life was in danger, and he’d speak about it as if it was a small event.
“Saying ‘we’re running onto the machine guns, and it wasn’t ideal,’ the idea was that you don’t indulge in the fear and the danger what you do is do the opposite, you say that ‘it was nothing,’ you say ‘it was okay, I was fine.'”
Knight added that it “absolutely” helped to speak with Sadler for the show, saying: “There’s a couple of events in the first episode in fact that are as a consequence of talking to Mike about real events that have never been written down.”
Referring to a scene which sees Swindells’ Stirling throw a dummy grenade onto a pool table to clear a room, Knight said that was “a real event that has never been written down that came out of a conversation that I had with him, and it was sort of a real indicator of the madness of these kids.
“How the people that were prepared to do these wild things in a very sort of restricted and understated sort of way. I think the best achievement of this whole series is capturing a completely different way of young men being men, which I hope people will get.”
A ‘Fresh’ StoryScottish officer Lieutenant Colonel David Stirling, DSO (1915 – 1990) of the British Army, UK, 22nd August 1974. He helped create the SAS in 1943, and he is played by Connor Swindells in EPIX’s period drama “Rogue Heroes.”
Terry Disney/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Tom Shankland, who directed the series, also told Newsweek how it was the incredible true story that drew him to the project because it “felt fresh” even though the show is set in 1943.
“I’ve studied history and found World War II fascinating, but it wasn’t specifically a bit of history that I was familiar with,” Shankland said. “So it felt fresh and I thought what was so amazing was it felt a little like it was talking to me there and then, rather than being from the distant past.”
He added: “I loved Ben Macintyre’s work, it’s all true so there is a level of truth being filtered through these amazing boys. I just thought I’ve got to get involved in this, I just wanted to be with those guys and that crazy desert, and having those adventures, and it all felt sort of really timely.”
Referring to a scene later in the series that sees the newly formed SAS do a parachute jump in a sandstorm, Shankland went on: “I read a script that was like ‘the weather is absolutely terrible, there’s a sandstorm, 50 guys take off in a plane anyway, and think yea f*** it we’re going to jump,’ and I thought that can’t be real, but I read [Macintyre’s book] and yep, they did that. They really did that. I thought that was so off-the-scale [and] mind-blowing.”
Rogue Heroes premieres on EPIX on Sunday, November 13, at 9 p.m. ET/PT, and it will air weekly.
Correction 11/14/22 10:07 a.m. ET: This article has been updated to correct the show’s title to “Rogue Heroes,” which is the U.S. title for the program, rather than the BBC’s original title of “SAS: Rogue Heroes.” » …