It found its feet in the second half, though. The new chief instructor Rudy Reyes, scowling over his shemagh scarf like a jacked Lawrence of Arabia, was a serviceable replacement for the now-disgraced Ant Middleton. But it was the interplay between his laconic number two, ex-Navy Seal Remi Adeleke, and the British directing staff, which was the best value.
“Tell us about your upbringing,” they growled at rattled recruit JJ. It transpired that he had quite the hinterland, with a brother who had been beaten to death in prison a few years previously. I’m not convinced that Adeleke’s counsel – “the tough guy is the guy who can reveal his pain” – helped much, but it made for abruptly affecting viewing.
In fact, this is the secret to SAS: Who Dares Wins. Like the Nazca Lines, its storytelling can be parsed from space. (Look out for JJ’s redemption; likewise, single mum Clare is an early front-runner.) But behind the bear crawls and Tom-of-Finland brawn, it’s about the emotional honesty that comes with extreme physical degradation. As Reyes put it: “We break you down to build you back up.” And you can’t help but applaud the contestants. Stripped to the bare essentials, they expose it all for public titillation – time to hang up the jockstraps, Chippendales?