Entertainment

SAS: Who Dares Wins takes on Vietnamese jungle in ‘toughest course to date'

The new series will see Mark ‘Billy' Billingham take over as Chief Instructor while Chris Oliver joins as the newest Directing Staff (DS) member.

SAS: Who Dares Wins will return to Channel 4 in January with a new batch of 20 recruits undergoing the jungle phase of SAS selection in North Vietnam.

The eighth series will see Mark ‘Billy’ Billingham, who was a member of the Special Air Service (SAS) for 27 years and an instructor in the jungle phase of the selection process, take over as Chief Instructor.

Billingham, who reached the rank of Sergeant Major during his career, said: “Having been a DS on actual military SAS selection and Chief Instructor at the British Army Jungle Warfare Training School in Brunei, there is nobody better placed than myself to lead the recruits through this treacherous environment.

Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins
Actress Maisie Smith and trainer Mark Billingham in episode of Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins (Pete Dodds/Channel 4/PA)

“I’m looking forward to challenging and encouraging the new recruits. However, I will not be accepting any excuses, this will be the toughest course to date.”

The 61-year-old, who was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery and was appointed a Member of the British Empire, will lead the line-up of ex-Special Forces soldiers.

They include returning Directing Staff (DS) Jason ‘Foxy’ Fox and Rudy Reyes, alongside brand new member of the DS team, former Special Forces Operator Chris Oliver.

Oliver joined the military at age 16 and served within the elite Special Boat Service, alongside fellow DS Foxy. He was deployed on operations to Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland, Oman, Iraq and Afghanistan, before leaving the military in 2015.

The 40-year-old said: “I will bring a hard-hitting intensity to the SAS: Who Dares Wins DS, being a fiery character with a very passionate approach to military training, with respect being at the forefront of everything I do.

“The values I intend to instill in the recruits, as part of the DS, have been forged on operations where we have lost good operators, so they had better be under no illusions – anyone who doesn’t play by the rules will pay the price.”

Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins
Jason Fox during SAS: Who Dares Wins (Pete Dodds/Channel 4/PA)

Meanwhile, 46-year-old Fox said: “Taking the course into the jungle, which is one of the most intimidating environments in the world, will make this one of the most intense and challenging courses yet.”

“We’ve got Billy as Chief Instructor, which makes total sense, for this course, as he has the most experience leading military operations and training in the jungle. I’d happily follow him into any situation.

“It’s also great to have Chris on board as a brand new DS. A man who I respect, having served with him before, he will bring an extra edge to an already very sharp blade. And as always, Rudy and I will be there to pack an already powerful punch.”

Former US Marine Reyes, who became Former SAS host Ant Middleton’s replacement on the military training show last series, said filming in Thung Ui, North Vietnam was an “emotional homecoming” for him.

He said: “My father was a US Marine who did multiple tours of duty in the Vietnam War and because of those scars inside and out I never knew him while he was alive.

Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins
Rudy Reyes during Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins (Pete Dodds/Channel 4/PA)

“But I was born with his passion and energy to be a Warrior and to go to the edge to find out if I have what it takes.

“It was an honour to work with the gracious Vietnamese people to bring the best SAS: Who Dares Wins series yet. And a humble honour to tread the harsh but beautiful jungles and rivers that my father did, and in a sense meeting him in a warrior way, spiritually.”

On the new DS line-up for this series, he added: “Brace yourselves for impact…we have the roughest, toughest most carnivorous DS line-up.

“B Squadron Bad Ass Billy Billingham is leading the course for this jungle series of SAS: Who Dares Wins.

“My man has the skills, wisdom and knowledge of jungle survival like no operator I have ever known. So much respect for Chris and legends Billy and Foxy, so standby for a hardcore SAS: Who Dares Wins series.”

SAS: Who Dares Wins will return to Channel 4 in January 2023 for six hour-long episodes.