In the first-ever celebrity series of SAS: Who Dares Wins, 12 well-known faces are embarking on one of the toughest tests of their lives, to raise money for Stand Up to Cancer.
They’ll be living and surviving together in an unforgiving ex-military base, high in the Chilean Andes.
We caught up with recruit Radio 1 DJ Dev Griffin to find out how he coped.
What made you agree to join SAS: Who Dares Wins?
I knew it was going to be really hard and difficult! I’ve been a fan of the series and, like anybody else, I would watch it and think, “I wonder if I would be able to do that.”
You see people who quit after the first day and you can’t help but think to yourself, “I’d do better than that”. I can now say after doing it that it’s a lot harder than it looks, but I was heavily motivated to do the show by a desire to prove to myself what my physical limitations are.
It looked like it was going to be so difficult and so hard, and I wanted to do it to see what I’m capable of and to prove myself.
What reaction did you have when it was announced you were doing the show?
I think there are some fans of the show who thought the DS would go easy on us. Maybe they thought it would be, “Challenge number one, put your left shoe one.
Challenge number two, you put your right shoe on”. However, if anyone thinks those guys took it easy on us because we are remotely famous, forget it! I’d even say that they went harder on us and they enjoyed every second of it!
The show is part of Stand Up To Cancer, was that important to you?
Definitely. Every time I had a low moment or just felt like I physically couldn’t do anything, the fact we were doing the show for such a good cause is what I kept coming back to and it kept me motivated.
I have had friends and family affected by cancer, and I know how important research and treatments are. Thinking about raising money for a really important charitable cause and all of the people we would be raising money for really helped to keep me going in the toughest moments.
Flying out there, what were you most worried about?
I always knew that the most difficult part about undertaking a challenge like this would be overcoming mental boundaries. I knew the physical challenges were going to be difficult and put me to the test, but that’s not really what I was worried about.
I was more worried about anything mental. The way that they are able to get inside your head and break you is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. In my own personal and work life, I have always worked really hard to try and keep myself level-headed and not let people get into my head.
Being in a job where I’m in the public eye, I’ve had a lot of horrible things said to me and about me, and I have learned how to not take it to heart and how to block negative things out.
Losing that control and having someone get in my head was definitely the bit that I was worried about. I’d seen the interrogation scene from the previous series’ and I just thought, “If I make it that far, that’s the bit I’m really going to struggle with.”
Did it prove as tough mentally as you feared it was going to be?
Yes! Every one of the DS staff has a different spin on the same sentiment, “You can always go a little bit further or, you’ve always got 20% left in the tank.” Once your body starts to give up on you, you have to start using your mind and I found that that message really stuck with me.
There are times when I stood at the bottom of a mountain, which is a great metaphor itself, then put my huge bergen on and they gave us a massive log to carry and said, “Right, get up the mountain.” When I’d start off I would be thinking
“There’s just no way. It’s so heavy. That mountain is so high. There’s no way I’m going to be able to get up there”. For me, it was very much a case of focusing on my breathing and nothing else in order to get through. I found that I would look around and all of a sudden I would be halfway up.
What I then didn’t want to do was try to guess how much further there was to go. It was just a case of keeping one foot in front of the other, and if it took me an hour or 10 hours, eventually I knew I would get to the top.
That feeling of when you are at the top of the mountain you’re like, “I did that. No one carried me, I got myself up here,” is incomparable.
There’s just that incredible sense of achievement and, funnily enough, I realised in that moment that I was standing at the top of the mountain, how many limitations I ordinarily put on myself.
I realised how much I think “Oh, I can’t do that. I wouldn’t be able to do whatever it is”. We are all actually capable of so much and we are the ones who put limitations on ourselves.
We decide what it is we can and can’t do. I realised coming back, I need to do so much more and I’m capable of doing so much more as well.
How did you feel falling backwards out of the helicopter on your first day?
That was such a great first thing to do because it was a really clever introduction to the whole process. I’m not that scared of heights, but I’ve never been in a helicopter before.
I didn’t really have a chance to think about what it would be like to fall out of the helicopter and I remember I had this moment where I stood out on the ledge of the helicopter and Ant got a hold of my arm.
As he grabbed me, I thought about how during this whole process they are the ones who are in control, they decide when we jump and they decide when we do anything.
Right before he let go of me, I had a weird sensation where I was like, “I’ve got no control over this whatsoever. It’s up to Ant when I go and I just have to go along with it”.
What did you make of the other celebrities?
I had met a few of them before through work and there were some I had never met at all. What I realised very quickly was that this was going to be a very personal experience.
I was not in competition with them and doing this was all for me. A lot of them were sports stars and with that comes physical strength, but we were all equal and we all had our own reasons for being there.
Who did you bond with the most?
I had nice moments with everyone, but I would say out of the crew I really bonded with Jeremy. We had some really nice moments together. There was a point where we were getting beasted and I had to carry Jeremy in a fireman’s carry around the circle.
I got to the point where I was just thinking that I was going to pass out, so I had to put him down. He grabbed hold of my shoulder and he said “Look at me. We’re going to get through this together. Just breathe and we’re going to go again”, and we did.
There were loads of really nice moments like that where if anyone was feeling a little bit low, or missing family, or just not coping very well, we really looked after each other.
Who was the naughtiest?
Sam, without a doubt! I love Sam so much. He really did keep morale high, even if he did get us in shit a couple of times.
What’s so funny is you realise that how he is being, that’s just him, it’s not an act, he’s not putting it on, that’s how he is. He would call Ant “mate” and Ant would get so annoyed with him!
What did you make of Ant and the DS staff screaming at you and getting in your face all the time?
I had a good idea of what it was going to be like and I knew they would do that. I felt that if we gave them respect, worked hard and really gave the process everything we had, we were going to be OK.
They are all incredible men. I just kept thinking “I’m so glad they’re on our side.” These guys are the best in the world, they’re trained so well and they are hard as nails. I was just thinking how glad I was they weren’t after me!