Jay joined the series as recruit number ‘4’, ‘Jamie’. He was tasked with working undercover for the Directing Staff (DS), before joining them as ‘Jay’ – the fifth member of the team. Here he reveals what life was like both as the DS’s secret informer and also as the new member of Ant Middleton’s DS team and how the recruits reacted to his secret identity being revealed.
Tell me about your experience on SAS: Who Dares Wins in your own words?
I went into SAS: Who Dares Wins initially as a mole or an informant for the DS. This was for six days, then I became a new member of the DS team.
Did you enjoy the experience of being our secret mole? Would you do it again?
Yes I enjoyed it. It adds a bit of fun to the ordeal and gives me something to occupy my mind with, other than getting thrashed. Plus sneaking around pretending to be someone else then feeding back intelligence under the other recruits’ noses is exciting.
Did you make friends with any of the recruits or were you just focused on doing your job for the DS?
Making friends is all part of it. I’d stand out and potentially blow my cover if I didn’t gain any one’s trust and befriend people. Making friends was all part of doing my job for my fellow DS.
Did you feel disloyal to the other recruits, reporting back to the DS about recruits who considered you to be their friend?
Not really. The recruits have entered the selection process knowing full well that they will be exposed in every way possible. It’s all part of figuring out which recruits the DS want to remain until the end.
How did the recruits react when they discovered your true identity?
I believe they were shocked. There was some paranoia from the start about there being a mole. Most of the recruits were expecting there to be one, mainly because there had been moles in previous series but once selection started and the group started to gel, most of that paranoia went away and the recruits just focused on their job. There was a select few who would bring it up now and then but they were suspicious about a few people.
Having got to know them and built relationships with the recruits, was it difficult to change the way you acted around them once you were officially a DS?
A little. I had semi warmed to a few of the recruits and knew that they were strong enough, mentally and physically to be there at the end. But I have been a Special Forces Operator for 10 years, I know how to flick back into that roll regardless of whether I liked that person or had built some kind of relationship. Ultimately we the DS are there to test these recruits in every way possible and not to be their friends.
Did the recruits show the same respect to you as they do the other DS?
Yes of course. I actually believe that they enjoyed or felt proud that they had worked alongside me. In fact one of them said this to me when I took her to the mirror room. They probably respected me even more as they knew what I was like as a recruit.
How does the SAS Who Dares Wins experience compare to real-life Special Forces? Have we managed to create the true essence of the SAS selection experience? Was it tough?
It was way tougher than I was expecting it to be. Respect to the recruits who get through it or who even get far in it. It’s impossible to replicate selection in such a short time but what they have done is take all the aspects of Special Forces selection and compressed them down to a very intense 11 days.
We’ve brought the series home to Scotland, to the birthplace of David Stirling – the founder of the SAS. Was there something special about filming the series back home in Scotland?
Yes for that reason, being the birth place of the SAS, but it has also been a proving ground for the Special Forces for years. There has been a great deal of training carried out in Scotland by the Special Forces. There aren’t many places like it in the world, its cold, dark and miserable, which makes it a very hard place to operate. Just the kind of place you want to put people through selection.
What did you think of our DS? Were they as tough as the DS you reported to in the SAS?
We all came from the same place, went through the same courses and fought in the same battlegrounds. Because of this, there is a mutual respect between us all. The DS are some of the hardest people I’ve ever worked with, just like every other SF operator I’ve ever worked with. They are some of the greatest people on this earth. There is a reason 95% of people don’t pass real selection.
Are they as scary in real life as they appear on the programme?
Was it hard to join such a solid group who have worked together for so many years? Did they make you feel welcome?
Like I said, there is a mutual respect between us. We have all done similar things and we all come from the same backgrounds. We all find it easy to work in teams – we’ve done it for most of our lives. The rest of the DS were very welcoming and I have respect for them all.
Did you think it worked, having male and female recruits together?
In all aspects in life, there are some men who are better than women and there are some women who are better than men. Why not give both genders the chance to prove this in this kind of environment.
Do you think our female recruits managed to keep up with the men?
First of all, they are recruits. A recruit is not denoted by their gender. Some of the women on the course were very strong so were some of the men but it’s the course that decides who is still standing there at the end.
Do you think our recruits could survive real selection? Why?
There are many many more aspects that go into producing someone in the Special Forces. They firstly have to be a very experienced soldier in their respective unit before coming on selection. There are more skills that take more than 10 days to test and learn but what I will say is that the recruit/s that get to the end do have the qualities that we look for in the Special Forces and if they had chosen a different path in life and ended up in real selection, they would stand in good chance.
Do you think a woman can win the series? Explain why?
I don’t see what not. There are some seriously strong women out there.
Were you surprised by who lasted the distance and who didn’t?
Not really. You can spot very early on who will make it to the end and who will not. You can see it in how they compose themselves, you can see if someone really wants something or if they are just doing it for the wrong reasons. You can also tell when someone has had enough. I’ve seen this hundreds of times, it’s easy to spot. I was happy for the finisher or finishers – they showed true grit, determination and the intelligence to get to the end.