SAS Rogue Heroes’ Jack O’Connell: ‘We got up early and did various types of punishment’

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Jack O’Connell enjoyed the team building aspect of the military fitness to get into the role of war hero Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne in new series SAS Rogue Heroes.

he 32-year-old plays the Newtownards man in the BBC drama, which continues tonight.

He said: “We had a fortnight of boot camp-type training led by our military adviser, a fellow called Bags. He is an ex-serviceman and knows of what he speaks.

“We did a fair bit of physical-type stuff and tried to feel a little fitter. When we moved to Morocco, we had another two weeks of warm weather training. We got up early and did various types of punishment.

“Some days we would have a morning off. We played around together in the sand dunes. That was good for morale, for team building.

“Then we had to get good at drill. Even though we only touch on it a little bit in the series, it was nice to know and to try to regiment that collective way of thinking a bit.

“I used to be a cadet myself , I was in the 126 Air Training Corps City of Derby Squadron.

“By day two, everyone knew about my cadet history, even the ex-military lads.

“They are like hardened battle folk, and I’m chiming in, thinking that my cadet stories had any place alongside that calibre. They’d be reliving war tales, and I’m talking about polishing my shoes and going on camps.”

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Jack O’Connell as NI war hero Paddy Mayne in the new BBC One drama SAS Rogue Heroes

He also worked with Belfast-born voice coach Brendan Gunn to perfect his accent.

Some of the stunts on the show left him terrified, but he didn’t want to back out as the other cast were doing them.

The former Skins star explained: “We were told that the stunt team wanted to take us up 50 feet in a shipping container and drop us down on a bungee-type thing.

“Going round and getting the names of who was up for it, you just couldn’t say no.

“We were all chatting to each other and going, ‘Are you going to do it? Are you going to do it?’ And no one could say no, but no one wanted to say yeah.

“We didn’t get around to it in the end. So what we did instead was, they hoisted us up on this crane — the harness that they gave us was just like an industrial wedgie — and they just dropped us off the thing.

“It was a lot less high-octane but still nervy enough.”

*SAS Rogue Heroes is on BBC One tonight at 9pm