Tough love? More like relentless cruelty

It seems in keeping with the “never quit” spirit of SAS: Who Dares Wins that losing its linchpin has barely interrupted the conveyor belt of sadism that is TV’s most gruelling reality show.

Since chief instructor Ant Middleton was dropped from the franchise over “personal conduct”, he has been replaced by former US Marine Rudy Reyes and US Navy Seal Remi Adeleke who join regulars Mark “Billy” Billingham and James “Foxy” Fox in wearing tight T-shirts and screaming abuse at people.

Rudy in particular made quite the impression, describing his childhood spent in care, citing Bruce Lee, Rambo and the Wolverine as his “father figures”, waltzing around in tiny black pants and declaring his motto to be “F.I.D.O.” meaning “F*** it. Drive on”.

This series, 20 participants have been deposited in the unforgiving Jordanian desert to be pushed to their limits physically, mentally and emotionally. Their first challenge, a mountain pass manoeuvre that involved edging along a rope suspended 165 feet above a ravine, proved exactly as hard as it looked with only six making it across while the others were branded things like “little bitch” and “f***ing donkey”.

Later, the show skirted presumably as close to the edge of outright torture as it was allowed (exposing recruits to CS gas and placing hoods over their heads to move them around camp).

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If you wondered why anyone would put themselves through this, the daily tactical questioning shone some light. For example, JJ wanted to move past his troubled childhood and the brutal murder of his brother in prison. It was a moving moment that contradicted the show’s otherwise staunch dedication to eradicating individuality in favour of “the brotherhood”.

Tough love is one thing but this weakling found the relentless cruelty all a bit much.

SAS: Who Dares Wins continues on Sunday 17 April at 9pm on Channel 4

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