Read our exclusive interview with barrister Richard Stevens – aka Number 18 in the latest series of Channel 4’s SAS Who Dares Wins
Richard, huge congratulations for your time on SAS Who Dares Wins. Can you sum it up in one sentence?
Even more brutal than it looked on TV!
What made you decide to do it?
I always like to take on the more difficult challenges. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to test myself against the toughest military selection process in the world. To take on this type of challenge is a massive undertaking physically and mentally but the rewards of completing the process far outweigh the negatives for me. I believe that it’s only through adversity that we really grow.
What was the reaction like amongst your colleagues, clients and fellow lawyers?
The response from everyone has been almost universally positive. Chambers and my instructing solicitors have been incredibly supportive of me taking part. I think it’s a show that, regardless of how far you get, attracts a great degree of respect as the majority of people watching accept that they would never put themselves through it.
What was the toughest stand out moment for you?
Completing the entire course only to be told I hadn’t passed. There were only five candidates out of 25 who went the distance in this series and to achieve that, particularly after 11 days of such gruelling treatment, including the final 20 hours of interrogation, only to be told that I hadn’t made the grade was heartbreaking. But I am incredibly proud that I was one of only a handful of people to ever have completed the course.
What did you learn about yourself?
I am a lot more resilient than I ever believed. It would have been so easy to withdraw from the course as so many of the other candidates did through the process. But I never came close to quitting. It was never an option for me.
You were very open about being bullied at school and the impact that it had on you later in life. What was the reaction like from the general public and are you pleased you were so candid?
Following the show, I was concerned that I had opened up about it in such a public way, as it is something I have always repressed. After it was shown in episode four, however, the response was overwhelming in such a positive way. So many people messaged me to tell me of their own struggles and to see that it had inspired so many people was incredibly humbling.
This was the first series where female recruits trained alongside men; do you think the women found it harder than the men?
I think solely in a physical sense it was harder for the women as the weights we were required to carry etc. were not adjusted in any way to account for gender or body size. This inevitably disadvantaged the women as they were, on the whole, smaller than the men. That said, the resilience of the female contestants was unbelievable and from a mental perspective I think they arguably coped better.
What were instructors (Ant, Foxy, Ollie and Billy) really like? Are they as tough off screen?
During the show, there is no off screen. You are filmed 24 hours per day and nothing is staged. The DS (instructors) do not break role at any stage. They are not there to be your friend and as such, they remain very firm with you throughout. That said, once the show finished, they were very warm and friendly and I am still in contact with most of them.
Any regrets taking part?
Don’t believe everything you see on TV. The show was heavily edited to tell the stories the production company wanted... often at the expense of the truth or the people involved. But we signed up for a TV show and that was, to a certain degree, to be expected.
Finally, would you do it again?
Absolutely, where do I sign?