Steven Knight on the ‘Rogue Heroes’ of His Follow-Up to ‘Peaky Blinders’

Alfie Allen in Rogue Heroes
BBC and Kudos

On November 16, 1941, the Special Air Service — an ill-equipped fledgling unit of British soldiers — prepared to parachute into the Libyan desert, behind enemy lines. Sandstorm blizzard conditions made the covert op not just ill-advised but suicidal.

As covered in an early hour of the WWII drama, Rogue Heroes, a pilot assigned to deliver the troops to their target spot reminds the undisciplined but determined SAS commanders, “The wind is 30 knots — 15 knots is considered unsafe.” With crazed bravado, Paddy Mayne (Jack O’Connell) shouts back, “War! Is! F***ing unsafe!”

Rogue Heroes Key Art

(Credit: EPIX)

Planes set to go, SAS leader David Stirling (Connor Swindells) walks off with Mayne and tactician Jock Lewes (Alfie Allen), saying of the confrontation, “I think it went rather well!”

“When I discovered the true story of what happened, it was so outrageous,” creator Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders) says of the SAS, formed in reaction to Britain’s bumbling command. The unit’s off-the-grid effectiveness, achieved by what Knight calls “controlled anarchy,” helped turn the tide for the Allies. “Their approach was so revolutionary because it was so unexpected.”

Knight endeavored to bring the true heroism of this effort to these six episodes, which costar Dominic West (The Crown). “Some of these [soldiers] were smart. Some were nerds. Some were real misfits. But when war comes along, all kinds of people have their role. These men did extraordinary things.”

Rogue Heroes, Series Premiere, Sunday, November 13, 9/8c, Epix