Last night (17th Oct) Channel 4 began the second season of their reality series ‘Who Dares Wins’. The format follows 25 volunteers who are sent to the Ecuadorian rainforest to participate in an approximation of the jungle phase of UK Special Forces Selection. A staff of former SF soldiers put participants through their paces with a series of physically and mentally demanding tasks to find out who has what it takes.

I guess the everyman appeal of the format is what makes this compelling viewing. These ordinary men (all men in this series) all have lives, ambitions and weaknesses that strike a chord with us for being so similar to ourselves or people we know and we wonder how would we perform and measure up? Watching each of the participants struggle with the pressure, the physical demands of the heat, humidity and apparent oppressiveness of the jungle and their own demons, in several cases, is a fascinating glance at the human condition. And of course it is always at the extremes, where fear and pressure are most apparent that characters are forged and people find the measure of what they can achieve – very little in some cases and in others more than they ever imagined.

Beyond the entertainment value, the programme is a reminder that character and self-confidence are forged in adversity. The struggle is the process. Developing the willpower not to quit, the resilience to cope with the unexpected, to keep going & to come back stronger, these are the psychological battles that build self-awareness, emotional control, courage, endurance and self-reliance. Qualities treasured not just by the military and SF but every parent, teacher employer and citizen. From out of the hottest furnace comes the strongest steel.


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