24 civilian recruits take part in a gruelling Special Forces selection course designed by former members of Ireland’s elite Special Forces unit, the Army Ranger Wing (ARW). Welcome to Hell. 

The Army Ranger Wing (ARW) is one of the toughest, best-trained Special Forces units in the world. They are on standby 24 hours a day, either to deploy overseas or to react to any serious domestic criminal or terrorist threat. This constant high level of preparedness means there training and skills are benchmarked against other elite Special Forces units across the world including the SAS and the Navy Seals.

However due to the highly sensitive nature of its work, very little is known about the ARW, much of what they do is classified, its missions covert and its members have, until now stayed in the shadows. To become a member of the ARW all unit members must pass selection. Unit selection is the hardest test any soldier in the Irish military can go through. The failure rate is upwards of 90%; only the toughest, most mentally robust candidates pass.

In this new series we lift the veil on this highly secretive selection process as we recreate ARW selection and put twenty-four civilian recruits through the toughest, most demanding week of their lives.

The Hell Week course is based on the actual exercises and tests currently used the on the ARW course. The Hell Week course instructors (DS) are four veteran unit members. They have designed a course that will test recruits physical, emotional and psychological resilience. It is designed to break all but the toughest of individuals.

The recruits are some of Irelands fittest men and women. They come from all walks of life, but all with one thing in common, each of them believes they have what it takes to pass selection.

The super fit civilian recruits will be required to pass rigorous physical, stress and mental tests, including fitness, water confidence, navigation and aptitude. Specific tests will include cold-water endurance, height tests and claustrophobic challenges as well as various trials of strength, stamina and determination. However selection is not all about who is the fittest or strongest. It’s as much about mental toughness, the ability to endure and a dogged determination to never quit.

Over the eight days, recruits get on average about two to three hours of sleep a night as we mix day challenges and night tests. The recruits will be forced to endure different stress positions and sensory challenges in an effort to break the recruits. The ability to lead or work within in a team is also crucial aspect of ARW selection and this will be tested throughout. When a group or individual performs badly the entire group will be punished.

Each and every waking moment the civilian recruits will face unrelenting pressure. Effort, commitment & precision is the minimum requirement in everything they undertake.  Failure to meet the required standards means they will be asked to leave the course. For those who decide they cannot go on they simply have to D.O. (drop out) by handing in their number to the DS.

The four DS, men who lived it for real, all served for more then ten years within the unit. They speak candidly about their time in the Special Forces and what the unit means to them. Viewers will quickly understand the qualities the ARW require and the type of person who might have what it takes to pass selection?

Special Forces – Ultimate Hell Week is the mother of all challenges; will any of the recruits prove to the DS they have what it takes to pass selection.

This is not like any other reality TV series, there is no guaranteed winner, no certainty that anyone will make it to the end. This is raw, real and relentless. Produced by Motive Television, Special Forces – Ultimate Hell Week is a brand new factual format for RTÉ2.