Belfast Telegraph

Tom Hardy to take on role of Ulster-born SAS hero Blair Mayne

Tom Hardy (Ian West/PA)
Tom Hardy (Ian West/PA)
Tom Hardy
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Tom Hardy is set to take on the role of Lieutenant Colonel Blair 'Paddy' Mayne, the Newtownards-born man who became a legendary SAS soldier.

It's reported the Mad Max star has been cast as the "hard-drinking killer" in a new television drama based on the book SAS: Rogue Heroes by historian Ben Macintyre.

The project will also reunite Hardy (39) with the writer of Peaky Blinders, Steven Knight, when he played the gangster Alfie Solomons.

Mr Knight told The Times newspaper the drama would show the original story of the elite army unit during the Second World War and the psychology of the men behind it.

"This will be a secret history telling the story of exceptional soldiers who decided battles and won wars only to then disappear back into the shadows," Mr Knight said.

"We will shine a light on remarkable true events informed by the people who shaped them."

Although cherished by many as Newtownards' most famous son, the depiction of Mayne in Macintyre's book paints a more controversial picture of a "brilliant soldier but a troubled soul with a very short fuse".

He went on to call the 17-stone Mayne, who was also celebrated for his exploits on the rugby field with Ireland and the British Lions, as "truculent, troubled, and dangerously unpredictable, particularly when drunk, which was often".

The vivid descriptions in the book are based on first-hand reports from soldiers who took part in the regiment's secret missions between 1941 and 1945.

Founder of the SAS David Stirling said he was shocked when Mayne (his second in command) gunned down around 30 unarmed enemy soldiers who were in a canteen during an operation in the Libyan desert in 1941.

Stirling later wrote of his shock, saying "It was necessary to be ruthless... but Paddy had overstepped the mark.

"I was obliged to rebuke him for over-callous execution in cold blood of the enemy."

Lieutenant Colonel Blair Mayne
Lieutenant Colonel Blair Mayne

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