The latest recruits to take on the gruelling challenges of Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins include a drag queen, a former Olympian and a domestic violence survivor.
Ant Middleton, 39, will put 25 men and women through their paces in the latest season of the show, which will return to the highlands of Scotland, which the Special forces call ’gnarliest place to train on the planet’.
Ant, his team and the recruits will be based in a disused steading on the remote island of Raasay located on the West Coast of Scotland, where they will eat, sleep and wash together.
The fifth series of the hit programme, which returns tonight at 9pm, will see the group pushed to the limit, battling harsh conditions, gruelling challenges, and strict food rations of just 800 calories a day – all on two hours sleep.
The process is designed to replicate the Special Forces’ tough recruitment process.
In the first episode, the group will have to fall backwards from a 10-foot platform in teams of three, will be stranded in the Scottish Highlands at night and will assault a ship mid-ocean, climbing aboard using a special forces insertion technique.
Meanwhile, one of the recruits Jay, 36, is not who he says he is, telling the staff that the group have become ‘too bonded’ and they’ll have to work to turn them on one another.
Here, FEMAIL introduces the some of the men and women tough enough to take on the challenging test.
The school rebel
Ant Middleton, 39, will put 25 men and women to the test in the latest series of SAS: Who Dares Wins, which starts tonight at 9pm on Channel 4 (pictured, Kirsty, 32, from London)
Kirsty, 32, from London, was bullied throughout school for the way she looked and was later expelled.
She left school with bad GCSE results, leaving her with an overwhelming need to challenge herself.
She said: ‘I enjoy seeking out my comfort zone. I think it’s a shame for us to grow old and never discover what our bodies and minds are truly capable of.’
Having started her own business, she’s determined to make the most out of life, and wants to push her own body to the limit.
She said: ‘I wanted to prove that as a female, I have what it takes to stand beside men and compete in the same physical challenges and demonstrate mental perseverance.
‘I’m also passionate about sharing life experiences and want to motivate and inspire other people to seek their discomfort zone, take risks, harness power and exceed their expectations.’
The cancer survivor
Carla, 40, from London, is a former Olympian and mother-of-four who was diagnosed with triple negative invasive breast cancer in October 2018
Carla, 40, from London, works as a business development manager. In 2000, at the age of 21, Carla sailed across the Atlantic in an 80ft ketch.
She’s always been driven and went on to compete in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 as a GB rower.
In October 2018, the mother-of-four found a lump in her breast and was diagnosed with triple negative invasive breast cancer.
She had 16 sessions of chemo, and was motivated to apply for the latest series of SAS: Who Dares Wins during one of her chemo sessions.
She said: ‘Pre-lump I had never felt better – four healthy young kids, I’d just started an incredible job three weeks prior to finding the tumour, and in the blink of an eye, our world was spun upside down.
‘The realisation that I would need to be broken (chemo, surgery and radiotherapy) in order to be ‘fixed’ and attempt to abolish the cancer was a total headspin.
‘I needed a goal to focus on beyond cancer. Cancer consumes your whole world – your time, the way people interact with you, your mood, your mental health, physical wellbeing, your get up and go.
‘All I wanted was to get back to pre-chemo Carla as quickly as possible.’
She went on: ’Whilst going through chemo and watching the last series of SAS, a particular scene jumped out at me, where one of the female recruits dived under the ice cold water and all I could think was “if I can get through this treatment and wearing the cold cap through chemotherapy I could do that.”
‘I set myself a goal that night to become an SAS recruit, and I’d chip away week by week, treatment by treatment, training when able in order to reach that goal.
‘Turns out that was the best decision ever, it has aided my recovery no end, and given me one of the best experiences of my life.’
The sisters - Bethany
Bethany, 27, from Cornwall, has struggled with bipolar disorder since she was a teenager, and used fitness to help her control her mental health
Bethany, 27, and Elouise, 26, grew up on a farm where their parents taught them to question everything, especially authority. As a result, they don’t always fit in with everyone else. They stood out at school and didn’t fit in with the other girls.
Bethany has lived with mental health issues since she was a teenager. At times, it has caused her to withdraw massively, impacting her relationship with her sister.
Eventually, Elouise realised that the problem would not go away on its own and hatched a plan to make Bethany better by getting her involved in her own interests of Crossfit and nutrition.
Bethany eventually learnt that she could control her mental health with diet and exercise. They then became best friends again.
The sisters – Elouise
Elouise, 26, from Cornwall, is on the programme with her sister Bethany, and considers herself an adrenaline junkie
Both sisters compete in cross-fit and Olympic weight-lifting, with dozens of podium finishes between them.
They now see each other every day and are extremely close again – even living just down the street from each other.
Bethany revealed: ‘I wanted to prove to my family and myself that after my mental health struggles with bipolar disorder, I’m OK now and I can not only cope with the stresses in competing in a sport and everyday life, but I can take on one of the most stressful and challenging courses and come out of the other side just as mentally strong as before.
‘Having bipolar disorder no longer holds me back.’
Meanwhile Elouise said: ‘My sister initially applied for the course and I have always watched it on TV and wanted to have a go myself.
‘I love a challenge and I think that I can achieve anything I put my mind too.’
She added: ’Not much phases me and I am such an adrenalin junkie so tasks like jumping out of helicopters and abseiling really excite me.’
The Drag Queen
Mark, also known as his Drag Queen name Cybil War, 31, from London, has dreamed of going on SAS: Who Dares Wins for years
Mark, who is also known as Cybil War, 31, from London, had dreamed of going on SAS: Who Dares Wins for years.
His father was in the army from the age of 18 with a large proportion of that time serving in the SAS.
His life revolved around being a member of the armed forces and SAS and although Mark is a different character to him, he would like to see if he has the same ‘fire’ as his father to pass SAS selection.
He explained: ‘My father was SAS so it’s something that I’ve always known about in the periphery of my life growing up but I knew nothing of it.
‘Watching the first four series of the show, it just became my favourite show and when you’re sat at home watching it, you think “I could do that” so I decided I had better prove I can.’
Mark moved to New York in 2014 with work, and discovered the drag scene, which opened his eyes to a different way of being.
It allowed him to build amazing relationships with people and embrace who he is as a gay man and create another persona – Cybil War.
Mark has two sides to his personality which he taps into, saying: ‘By day I’m responsible for how we position and package the company’s software and the training of the sales team to maximise revenue.
‘By night, I am the matriarch of a drag/artist collective. I am a club promoter, DJ, host and face of a monthly queer club night that is entering its third year regularly bringing together over 400 LGBT people.’
Jerrome, 29, from London, is a former prisoner who changed his life around after time inside, he transformed his life, and has now built a successful career as a Personal Trainer
Jerrome, 29, from London, faced a challenging upbringing growing-up, with petty crime through sheer boredom and peer pressure.
He ended up going to prison for possession of a firearm.
Looking back on that time, he is disgusted with himself for living that lifestyle and living up to the stereotype of a young black man.
The moment the cuffs were on Jerrome, he realised he needed to turn his life around.
He stopped smoking and drinking, cut off all the friends he had before, and used his time in prison to get all the qualifications he needed to get a job afterwards.
He has learnt patience from his experience and since leaving prison, Jerrome has lived an honest life, building a successful career as a Personal Trainer.
He called the programme ‘the worst and best experiences of my life’, saying: ‘I’ve been known to be a man who loves and conquers all challenges, but in all honesty this one caught me off guard in all aspects.’
Domestic abuse survivor
Nicola, 40, from Taunton, is a single mother-of-two who has faced domestic violence in past relationships
Nicola, 40, from Taunton, has been through difficult times with abusive men in her life.
The final straw was when she was pregnant with her second son and her partner caused her to become hospitalised.
Her son witnessed everything, and she still lives with that guilt. She doesn’t regret anything though as the relationship gave her children and made her who she is today.
However, she is determined that no-one feels sorry for her. She’s now happily married and her husband treats her like a princess.
She revealed: ‘I am always trying to prove to myself and show others how strong I am or can be.
‘I am always looking to take on challenges to prove to people I am tough.
‘I was in the darkest of places during my early 20’s – I was a single mother of 2 young boys going through a Domestic Violence court case.
‘I had kept my suffering quiet for so many years but managed to find the courage to leave and press charges after a horrible assault whilst pregnant.
‘My boys had seen me at my lowest and saddest. One day I woke up and realised I was missing out on my children growing up.’
Meanwhile postman, Owen, 42, from South Shields, achieved high grades at school but ended up ‘destroying himself’ with drugs and alcohol and now wants to make his family proud
Owen, 42, grew up in a council estate in South Shields. He achieved 9 GCSE passes and went to sixth form hoping to be a barrister-but as fate would have it ended up needing the services of one instead.
Age 16 he met a girl who was a bad influence and he began stealing cars and burgling shops to impress her. This eventually led Owen on a path of self-destruction.
He openly admits to ‘destroying’ himself with drugs and alcohol but feels now like he’s found an inner strength and wants to make his family proud.
He said: ‘The programme has been by the far my favourite television programme and after watching every series from the start, I’ve always thought I would excel in all the tasks, from climbing, submersion to jumping off things, hanging from things, carrying and holding things – it’s just what I do.
Trainee Ophthalmic Surgeon
Pavandeep, 31, from Slough, learned to swim so that he could be on the programme, and went against his elder wishes
Pavandeep, 31, from Slough, dreamed of joining the RAF but ended up going into medicine.
Having led a relatively pampered life, often spoilt by his traditional Indian family, he said he feels he has a lack of belonging and purpose.
He was determined to prove himself on SAS: Who Dares Wins so went against his elders wishes and applied for the series.
He also taught himself to swim in preparation for the course.
He said: ‘I didn’t want to just keep telling stories about great warriors and their deeds in history but to go through it myself and be the ‘man in the arena’.
‘Because to me, that is ‘living’ – to struggle and strive whilst pushing yourself far beyond your comfort zone.
‘In our world now, we have become so used to comfort and pleasure and I believe it has weakened us and robbed us of the chance to realise our true potentials.’
Meanwhile Myles, 21, from London, was left devastated when he learned his father was a drug addict, but is determined to prove they’re not alike and to be a role model to others
Myles, 21, from London, discovered his father was a drug addict as a young man. He now feels his biggest fear is that he’ll become his father, leading him to ditch his vices and focus on building a successful business with like-minded people.
He revealed: ‘After being engulfed in my dad’s world of addiction, I felt it was important to prove to myself and to others similar to me that circumstance does not dictate a person or how they should be.
‘I was intrigued to determine who I was underneath the exterior. As a young black male there are stigmas attached to my ethnicity.
‘It was important for me to show viewers as well as myself how well a person like me (a young black student who has had difficulty with role models) could do in an environment where most do not attempt to go.’
The amateur grime MC artist
Meanwhile Kim, 32, from London, started taking her grime MCing seriously as a teenager and is now passionate about fitness
Kim, 32, grew up in inner-city London after her parents emigrated from Vietnam to the UK.
Growing up, she was an average teen with a rebellious side. Her mum became fearful for her as a teen when she started to take her grime MCing seriously, so she pushed her to study maths so she could work towards a more stable career.
When her mum became really strict and threatened to kick her out of the house, she realised she had to put this lifestyle behind her and turned her attention to her studies.
She planned to become an investment banker and in fact, worked for five years as an auditor but her heart wasn’t in it, despite the good salary and stability.
It was at this point when she decided to get involved in fitness.
She called SAS ‘the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life.’
The first episode of Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins airs tonight at 9pm
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