SAS Rogue Heroes: release date, cast, plot, trailer and everything we know

SAS Rogue Heroes cast
SAS Rogue Heroes cast are ready for action! (Image credit: BBC)

SAS: Rogue Heroes is a major drama telling the story of how the world’s most famous Special Forces unit, the SAS, was born, which is now available to watch.

Based on Ben MacIntyre’s best-selling book, SAS: Rogue Heroes, the series tells the remarkable tale of how the SAS came to exist in North Africa during World War Two.

Adapted by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight, reveals how officer David Stirling (played by Connor Swindells), the founder of the legendary organization, and his men changed warfare by attacking the enemy behind their own battle lines in a string of daring escapades.

As the Beeb puts it, the series “delves into the psychology of the flawed, reckless but astonishingly brave group of maverick officers and men who formed the SAS in the darkest days of World War Two”.

Steven Knight explains: "To create a drama from this amazing story I had to sculpt a world where things are a little bit heightened, much like how war and the absurdity of it heightens every emotion. Bringing characters to life to inhabit this world, especially ones that are not archetypical heroes, was made so much easier by leaning on the facts and the truths. 

"A more conventional approach would have been to simply focus on success upon success, but these are real men with real flaws who made mistakes along their paths to victories."

It is one of the best BBC dramas of 2022, here's everything we know...

SAS: Rogue Heroes release date

Sas Rogue Heroes cast artwork

(Image credit: BBC)

SAS Rogue Heroes was released on Sunday 30 October on BBC One, with all episodes now available on BBC iPlayer. Episode six will be shown on BBC1 on Sunday, December 4 at 9.15 pm.

Meanwhile, in the US, where the series is known just as Rogue Heroes, it's on EPIX.

What’s the plot of SAS: Rogue Heroes?

During World War Two, eccentric young officer David Stirling is hospitalised in Cairo, Egypt, after a training exercise accident. Bored, he starts thinking that the accepted war methods are wrong and hits on a radical plan.

He battles for permission to build a small undercover unit of tough, bold and bright soldiers who will attack behind enemy lines. The rebellious band then endeavour on a string of daring missions as they show astonishing bravery.

"SAS Rogue Heroes tells the true story of war... the chaos, the comedy, the tragedy, all in one moment," says Steven Knight.

Connor Swindells, who plays Stirling, adds: "As the show goes on and the arcs continue there’s a real degrading process that happens with all of them physically and mentally. They all become these desert pirates who live off the land and learn to read it very well. 

"That’s shown in the make-up and the wonderful costumes that we have. I feel very lucky that I was able to work with such an amazing team who provided support and it was great to have people so good at their jobs who really took pride and care into everything that they did. Everyone was really passionate about this job and it really showed, and wow did we need it when we were out there in that heat. There was a real kind of morale felt between everyone."

What happens in episode one?

It’s Spring 1941 and young David Stirling is frustrated by a lack of action and how badly the British are doing in the war. Stirling and his old pal Lewes form a plan to parachute troops into the desert behind enemy lines. But Stirling is left badly injured on his first jump...

What happens in episode two?

Stirling is laid up in hospital following his parachute accident. While there he formulates a more detailed plan of how he can attack the Germans. He then forms an amazing plan to break into to see the top of the British army and sell them his plan.

What happens in episode three?

Stirling and his men attempt a parachute jump in terrible conditions with disastrous results. Despite many of his men being killed, the remaining troops manage a string of audacious raids on German positions with incredible results. British headquarters are stunned to learn about all the aircraft destroyed...

What happens in episode four?

Stirling is fuming that he has so far managed to destroy no German planes, while Paddy Mayne gloats about his successes. Much to his anger, on the next raid Stirling again fails to score a hit. But a much worse tragedy awaits him when he learns that his dear friend Jock Lewes has been killed. Tragically, Lewes never learnt that his girlfriend had accepted his marriage proposal.

What happens in episode 5?

There’s a lot of humour in this episode as Paddy employs some very unusual training methods to get the Free French fighters up to speed. Stirling is getting dangerously close to French spy Eve. Churchill’s son Randolph arrives on the scene, looking for a taste of the action. But he gets more than he bargained for when Stirling takes him on a daring raid on  Benghazi.

SAS: Rogue Heroes Cast

Connor Swindells (Sex Education) plays David Stirling, with Jack O’Connell (Skins) as Paddy Mayne, Alfie Allen (Jojo Rabbit) as Jock Lewes, and Sofia Boutella (Modern Love) as Eve. Dominic West (The Wire) will play Lieutenant Colonel Wrangel Clarke.

Connor Swindells says: “I feel tremendously honoured to be joining this series with such a talented group of people. Portraying such an interesting man is incredibly exciting and I feel very lucky to be able to do so. It’s going to be an amazing ride.”

Steven Knight adds: “I’m really excited to be gathering together the very best of a new generation of British and International talent to tell this remarkable story. The people who are depicted and who did such extraordinary things were young, in their 20s, and we have made a conscious decision to cast people of the same age. We enter this project with a spirit of adventure and believe our young and talented actors will do justice to this period of history.”

Further casting announced includes Tom Glynn-Carney (Dunkirk, The King) as SAS founding member Mike Sadler. Plus The Crown's Jason Watkins features and so does Dominic West.

Here's some of the cast in action...

Is there a trailer?

Yes! It's certainly action-packed! The trailer is soundtracked by a new version of The Stranglers' hit "No More Heroes", here performed by Skin, the lead singer of Skunk Anansie.

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years working for TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer for TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!