TV & Movies

SAS Rogue Heroes Team Had To Fend Off Snakes & Sandstorms On Set

The treacherous filming locations raised the stakes for the BBC drama.

Connor Swindells as David Stirling in BBC series 'SAS Rogue Heroes'

After being commissioned in late 2019, BBC drama series SAS Rogue Heroes has now finally hit our screens. Starring the likes of Sex Education’s Connor Swindells, Skins alum Jack O’Connell, Game Of ThronesAlfie Allen, and The Crown’s Dominic West, the six-part TV series is Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight’s adaptation of Ben Macintyre’s best-selling book, recounting how the Special Air Service was created.

The real SAS was formed in 1941 in the North African desert, training small groups of men to be dropped behind enemy lines for covert surveillance. So was SAS Rogue Heroes filmed in North Africa as well, and if not, then where?

According to the BBC, the series was filmed over the course of three months on location in the UK and Morocco. Aside from difficulty getting in and out of the country due to lockdown-related border closures, filming in Morocco presented several challenges. Temperatures could reach up to 53°C on some days, and the production was also frequently disrupted by sandstorms.

Swindells, who stars as eccentric officer David Stirling, opened up about his filming experience in the Sahara desert. Speaking after a special screening of SAS Rogue Heroes at London’s BFI, he said: “We did a lot of day-for-night stuff as well, which was the hardest because night-time in the desert is normally extremely cold, so we’d be wearing tonnes and tonnes of layers, but we were shooting at midday in the heat.”

Meanwhile, stuntman Olly Lloyd told the BBC: “I saw plenty of scorpions, and snakes were being caught before we got to set, to make sure it was safe.” That said, Lloyd found the experience made it easier for him to step into the boots of an SAS officer. “It was embodying the spirit of what the SAS went through at that time, we were living in the same conditions that they did.”

Filming locations in the UK included the Elveden Estate near Thetford in Norfolk — which doubled up as a hospital in Cairo. Meanwhile, RAF Brentwaters near Tunstall in Suffolk was used for the plane shots, desert camp, and Jeep attacks, per the Eastern Daily Press.

SAS Rogue Heroes is now available to stream on BBC iPlayer.