Poetry-lover and unexploded bomb … Jack O’Connell as Paddy Mayne. Photograph: Robert Viglasky
Rebels, renegades, repressed homosexuals, drunks, poets and a cross-dressing spy … the great historian is loving the BBC’s thrillingly faithful account of the fighting force’s origins – including its heavy metal soundtrack
Warning: contains minor spoilers
Ireally have to take my hat off to Steven Knight. The writer of Peaky Blinders has adapted Ben Macintyre’s SAS Rogue Heroes, the authorised history of the Special Air Service, and turned it into the best dramatic series the BBC has produced for ages.
The show opens with a huge column of British army trucks crossing the Libyan desert to the stirring sounds of Colonel Bogey marching music. This could be the start of a classic 1950s war movie, but our expectations are soon turned upside down. The junior officer in the lead vehicle, Lieutenant David Stirling of the Scots guards, brings the convoy to a halt. They are on their way to relieve besieged Tobruk but, due to a miscalculation of staggering stupidity, he discovers that they have been given fuel for just 500 kilometres, not the 500 miles required. No more Colonel Bogey. Along with Stirling’s fury, the soundtrack explodes into AC/DC’s If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It). Rogue Heroes, we soon find, is closer to rock-star history – and yet, so enjoyably gung-ho is this adaptation, the anachronism proves irresistible.