Colin MacLachlan - Big Interview

Date: Thursday February 7, 2019 at 10:10am

New Challenge New Beginnings (NCNB) is the Resettlement and Lifestyle magazine for the Armed Forces Community. Our front cover interview is with Colin Maclachlan, former SAS turned Actor, Author and Public Speaker. A special thank you to contributors in this issue; Alex Cooper, Jonathan Young, Philip Allan and Richard Harpham...

Thank you for agreeing to speak with NCNB today… Whilst at school, was joining the Military something you wanted to do? If so, why?

Colin: No, my mother wanted me out the house by the time I was sixteen and so I had to get permission to join the army at fifteen and enlisted as a junior leader back in 1989. That said, once I was there, I was determined to make the best of it and I think I did.

Travelling is nothing unusual to the Armed Forces, deploying to places that your normal person would not go to. What is the most memorable place you have travelled?

Colin: I have travelled extensively over my career but I think one of the most memorable places would be Alaska. It’s pretty much unspoilt and displays nature at its finest with mountains, forests and rivers and lots of wildlife. It’s a step back in time to what most of earth probably looked like.

How was your transition into Civvy St? What hurdles did you overcome?​​

Colin: I was given a local Herefordshire plumbers CV and told to cut and paste accordingly so not ideal! Initially I went straight onto the circuit (CP Tasks in Iraq) but later when I saved up enough to put myself through university, I really struggled and spent over a year applying for in excess of 1000 jobs without a single interview.


What is one of your best memories about being in the Military?​​

Colin: It’s difficult to pick one out as the Military gives you so many for different reasons. I danced with Lady Diana at the Ghillies Ball at Balmoral while I was the Queens Butcher, was involved in hostage rescues both the SAS and Delta Force/Seal Team 6 and went to the 2003 Iraq war as a sniper and vehicle commander with the SAS so all very different.

How did you get involved with being an instructor for the SAS: Who Dares Wins programme? What was it like being in the public eye?

Colin: I was initially registered with a company called Military Film Casting mainly for consultancy work on military films/series and was invited to the audition. I ended up being the only SAS veteran cast as the rest were SBS. I don’t think I was really prepared for agents, social media and the public eye and I actually think it has both positives and negatives. Personally, there can be a lot of difficulty, but it does a lot of good for wider society.

Who is your most memorable student from the show and why?

Colin: This seems like a catch 22 question as the ‘grey man’ shouldn’t really be memorable! That said I thought Ryan Roddy displayed a lot of the characteristics we would look for in a Special Forces operator. A quiet grit and mental resilience while remaining selfless. Also had a wee soft spot for Phil Hoban but for very different reasons.

Were there any off camera funny moments, while filming SAS: Who Dares Wins?​​

Colin: Humour and humility are part of the ethos of the SAS and I’m well known for my dry sense of humour. It’s something perhaps missing from the recent series but as most guys will tell you, dark humour gets us through a lot of otherwise grim times. A lot of people recall the ‘tutu and splits’ or ‘invading Sparta’ lines but off camera there was a time when ‘Freddy’ asked to go to the toilet and jumped out of the window and escaped leaving the guard red faced, who will remain anonymous!


You are an ambassador for 3 amazing charities; Pilgrim Bandits, Who Dares Cares and the Lee Rigby Foundation. Tell us more about the charities.

Colin: Not enough space to give enough due to these great charities but essentially Pilgrim Bandits were set up to help injured servicemen and servicewomen by pushing them to their limits physically and mentally, to not only improve their confidence, but help them realise they can still achieve great things and inspire others. The Lee Rigby Foundation was set up by his mother Lyn Rigby after his horrific murder which shocked the nation. Lyn wanted to help families of service personnel who had been affected by the grief of losing their loved ones which is often overlooked.

The Lee Rigby Lodge is a peaceful retreat for families affected and just one example of the good work they do. On a personal note, pulling on the Lee Rigby Select Jersey with the Rangers legends is always a very proud moment for me. Finally, Who Dares Cares was set up by myself and my friend Calum MacLeod. We recognised that there was no IMMEDIATE support available to emergency services personnel who were suffering from stress. We are in the process of designing an app which will not only have a 24/7 phone and response capability but will hopefully link the user and responder by means of geography and service background, as we think the best people to help those that have served are people who have lived it and speak the same language. Moreover, we want to create a ‘buddy-buddy’ system where people donate their time rather than money as we think it has more value and everyone has skills they could help others with. If you know of anyone interesting in helping us create that technology, please get in touch!

I heard you are planning on writing a book for 2019, please tell us more about the book.

Colin: The Pilgrim has been written in draft form since 2006 but I have resisted to publish without EPAW (Express Prior Authority in Writing) from the MOD. Unfortunately, this has proved problematic for a variety of reasons, not least things like unfounded ‘mercy killings’ stories in the press and other errors which have damaged not only my relationship with the Disclosure Cell but former colleagues, which probably disappoints me more. That said, I have a story to tell and people behind me to make it a reality in 2019, watch this space!

Do you have anything else planned for the year?​​

Colin: Red Dead Redemption 2 has just been released which was a lot of fun and Arthur Morgan’s face is everywhere at the moment. I have 3 or 4 very varied TV roles in 2019 which I’m looking forward to and the public speaking has really taken off so much so that I would love to do a speaking tour, if anyone knows how to organise that I would love to do one over the next year or two. I’m always interested in more TV and consultancy work so just get in touch if you think I could help.

You must have such a busy schedule with all the work you do, but what do you like doing in your spare time?​​

Colin: I like to spend time with my children, I read a lot and like to keep active and often travel.

Tell us something about Colin MacLachlan that no one will know?

Colin: I’m sure there will be ‘somebody’ that knows this but I created a conflict resolution workshop for schools that was eventually taken on by The Princes Trust as part of their year long XL Programme which I’m really proud of. Additionally, I was on one of the first ever Soldier Soldier series while I was in Cyprus as a young boy soldier!

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us, any final words or wisdom you would like to share with the Armed Forces Community for 2019?

Colin: Yes, cherish the moments as they are fleeting and always take the opportunity to test yourself and be the best version of you. Too many guys come up to me now and say ‘I wish I had given SAS Selection a go’. Be brave and not afraid to fail, better to try and fail than never try at all. Isn’t that a strap line for life in general?!​


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