An hour of hell with Freddie Flintoff

Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff hosts Special Forces - Ultimate Hell Week
Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff hosts Special Forces - Ultimate Hell Week
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We’re all fitness fanatics these days, aren’t we? Going from Couch to 5k, or getting up early to go spinning, enjoying an evening Zumba class to becoming an Ironman, exercise is a big thing.

Sometimes it seems, the harder the better – an Ironman triathlon, for example, consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, followed by a full marathon.

Well, now we have a new twist on these punishing past-times.

Special Forces – Ultimate Hell Week (BBC2, Sundays, 9pm)puts “some of the toughest amateur athletes inthe country” through two days of army training, overseen by special forces trainers from around the world, including Russia, Israel and Britain’s SAS.

This first episode saw the group being given stupid things to do by two US Navy SEALS, all overseen by the lumpen presence of Preston’s own Andrew Flintoff.

The early scenes showed the participants’ ludicrous sense of bravado. One, Recruit Brookes – a solicitor, a profession renowned for their physical endurance – told us: “There are some people here you can’t see getting past the first day... There are a lot of people who talk the talk, now we’ll see if they can walk the walk.”

You will no doubt have guessed that Brookes was one of the first off the course, barely surviving the first few hours.

The two US SEALS, Ray and Woodie, wore their voices out shouting at the motley group of ‘recruits’ as they sat in the South Wales surf and yomped up and down sand dunes.

As time wore on, they dropped like flies, and I don’t fancy their chances of making it through the full six weeks.

The big question this show poses, though, is what’s the point?

It doesn’t show us the reality of Hell Week – the ‘week’ only lasted 48 hours, for a start. And if these people really wanted to experience Army life, why not join the Army?

And ‘Freddie’? All he did was hang around on the beach in a nice warm jacket, occasionally patting a ‘recruit’ on the shoulder, probably just before telling them what a great breakfast he’s just had.

If you want to get a better idea of how the Army trains its men, go to iPlayer, where the BBC is screening its 1989 documentary How to Make a Royal Marines Officer. Or watch GI Jane. Viggo Mortenson has to be better than Freddie.