‘There’s plenty of action and great use of VFX. But as you’d expect from Steven Knight, there are multiple narrative layers’

Distributor Banijay Rights
Producer Kudos; Nebulastar
Length 6 x 30 minutes
Broadcaster BBC1 (UK); Epix (US)

Rogue Heroes is a much-anticipated period drama from showrunner Steven K Knight, created in partnership with Banijay-owned Kudos. Leaving behind the gripping world of Brummie gangsters and political extremism he conjured up in Peaky Blinders, the focus of Knight’s attention this time is the formation of elite British fighting unit the SAS during World War II.

The series is a true story based on historian Ben Macintyre’s best-selling book of the same name. “It charts the experiences of the heroic but reckless servicemen who undertook incredibly dangerous missions behind enemy lines,” says Matt Creasey, Banijay Rights executive vice-president of sales, co-productions and acquisitions, rest of the world.

“There’s no question that the creation of the SAS, and the guerilla operations it undertook against the Nazis and Italians, helped win the desert war.”

rogue heroes

With its big-budget, cinematic scale and eye-catching filming locations such as Morocco, Creasey says, the whole series feels premium.

“There’s plenty of action and great use of VFX. But as you’d expect from Steven Knight, there are multiple narrative layers. It’s about brotherhood, bravery, ingenuity and service. This crazy dysfunctional group don’t fit in and have issues with authority, but they still desperately want to win the war for their country.”

Rogue Heroes is heavily male-led, at a time when so many scripted shows have moved towards female leads, but Creasey says this is inevitable because of the series’ real-life origins. However, there is a strong female voice in the shape of Algerian actress Sofia Boutella, who features prominently, he notes.

While the Kudos-Knight combination will undoubtedly attract buyers, director Tom Shankland (The Serpent; The Missing) and a cast that includes Dominic West, Connor Swindells, Jack O’Connell and Alfie Allen add further gloss.

Pre-sales have followed accordingly. US premium cable brand Epix boarded soon after the show was commissioned by the BBC, while other buyers include Canal+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, SBS Australia and TVNZ.

“There are still some territories for us to sell to, but we also want to use Mipcom to celebrate the show’s launch”

Rogue Heroes is clearly a contender for a global Netflix or studio SVoD deal, but Creasey says: “The market generally tells you the best way to build a distribution plan for a series. “In this case, we were getting such a lot of interest from buyers at a local level, it just made sense to go out with Rogue Heroes territory by territory.”

The series launches on BBC1 just after Mipcom. “There are still some territories for us to sell to, but we also want to use Mipcom to celebrate the show’s launch,” says Creasey. “There will be billboards around the Palais.”

There are hopes that Rogue Heroes can develop into a major ongoing franchise – along the lines of Peaky Blinders – but it is not immediately on the agenda.

“Nothing has yet been decided, though that’s the ambition,” Creasey says. “You could imagine it moving through time in a ‘Crown-esque’ way, focusing on key SAS operations. But how it works creatively is ultimately down to the approach Steven Knight wants to take.”