Miller Ultimate Hell Week Winner

It has been amazing watching BBC2's "Special Forces - Ultimate Hell Week" unfold over recent weeks but, of course, it was actually filmed months ago and the results have been a well guarded secret. However, I managed to record the following sneaky little interview with the show's champion, Clare Miller, as soon as she came out. It has been really hard keeping it all a secret and it feels great to finally be able to talk about how AWESOME and truly inspirational this very special young lady is.

Check out below what Clare had to say about the show... before the scars had healed and the abs had chilled out a bit (seriously, it's worth watching until the end to see the abs - they're crazy!)

Thanks to the BBC and Warren Orchard for the cover picture.

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  1. Great show, great interview! Well done Clare – what an inspiration! I’m definitely training harder after watching the show. *:-)

  2. Please pass on my congratulations to ‘The Machine’! Great inspirational show with a great bunch of competitors near the end – those last six did amazing (plus some of the older recruits who pulled out a little earlier). Striking that when Flintoff asked the DSs who they thought was the stand out recruit at the end, they said Miller without any hesitation or pondering. At the beginning of ep.6 Miller said something like there were places she could go inside herself to find that energy to get through it – that really resonated. There is a special place inside ourselves only uncovered through intense focus and training. Great champion. Proud that she is a fellow doctor. HOO-YAH!

    (btw that clock isn’t working…)

  3. Saw the show and your Ultimate Hell Week videos and interviews – great work Mudstacle! Congratulations to Miller on a gutsy performance but the programme sold itself as SAS, SEALS, Aussie SAS, Spesnatz (ie not ‘normal’ soldiers) and in the Spesnatz episode she was a liability to her team when asked to carry weights of 35-40kg uphill across rough country. They had to carry her along eg she couldn’t put the full rucksack on by herself and she probably regrets what she said about the men helping her in the Telegraph article. Mental strength and intelligence are needed (and she showed these) but so is the physical ability. The last day’s final test dropped back to 20kg and included going along a flat canal path!!! She ran a great race but Episode 5 left me thinking it was a bit of a fix to get two woman in the final especially selecting her ahead of Doran. No candidate was perfect and Miller had failed her leadership boat task earlier in the series but I think if she’d been sent home by the Russian with her head held up high, the show / eventual winner would have had more credibility. Kudos to her for going for it and wish her well in OCR. (BTW is she undefeated in OCR as you wrote somewhere as didn’t her teammate Freya beat her in Hell Runner earlier in the year)

    • We get to see a very limited amount of what the contestants went through on the show – 1 hour per week really isn’t enough to really get a grasp for it. I totally get what you’re saying and, if I only knew what I saw on TV I might have a similar opinion. I’m not sure they justified the exit of Doran and Proctor properly but, apparently, it made more sense in the flesh.

      I personally think that the BBC did a bit of a classic TV trick – Making Miller look weak in the penultimate episode so that she looks even more triumphant in the final episode. Basically TV can tell whatever story they like with good editing. For example Martlew was seen to be crying the whole time… some people might think she’s too emotional. In reality she was one of the chirpiest in the camp by all accounts. The edit just chose not to show that.

      Obviously Miller’s size isn’t going to make her the strongest at carrying… but proportionately she’s like an ant. Her incredible list of strengths by far outweighed her weaknesses and, for that reason (with the bigger picture in mind) it would have been totally wrong for her not to be in the final episode. Also, the only elements they showed of her in the Russian tasks were of her falling over, etc. There was a lot of strength that she showed in those two days that were edited out – so much so that Sonny marked her out as one of the strongest on the parade ground (they just didn’t show that because it didn’t fit in with the theme of that episode – fair enough). It’s TV at the end of the day… but from speaking to a lot of people on the inside of the show Miller 100% justified her win and it was a unanimous decision that was disputed by no one.

  4. Thanks for replying Pete – appreciate it.

    You’re dead right on the editing front but I still don’t think an ant would pass SAS/SEAL/Spesnatz selection either and like Miller an ant has good strength to weight ratio but would still be a liability if there was 120 – 160kg of kit to carry cross-country and there only were 3 human members of a team plus the ant.

    If it could, imagine the headlines – ‘Ant demands its colony is allowed to join the SAS’ ‘Taking the fight to ISIS – the ant way!”Cameron sends in the ants’ ‘Interview with Super Ant’

    The problem is that if the show can’t justify a decision then it loses credibility. All the insiders want to say it was a huge success as they want to sell it or the format worldwide. The BBC were using the Australian SAS guy Jason as part of their marketing tool in Cannes this last week so it’s in his financial interest to say it was realistic.
    Noone disputes Miller is very fit and as a doctor no doubt more highly academically qualified than many of the other candidates but that Spesnatz episode also showed her messing up the map reading with Spicer as well as her good abseil so it was balanced. The ability to put on a bandage (or not) was amusing but not so important.

    Take other celebrity shows. Great British Bake off is a success globally because the winner can clearly carry his/her own ingredients and then bake the cake. If it looks like it’s been dropped on the kitchen floor but all the judges say “no, no really, it was yummy” it wouldn’t fly! Apprentice has been going for 10 years approx becuase the host Lord Sugar spends 10 minutes each episode explaining his decisions as to why he fires one of the three candidates who have failed a clearly defined task (make money).

    We’ll just have to disagree about the importance of being able to carry large rucksacks uphill in the special forces / SAS/SEALS/Spesnatz but hopefully if they do manage to sell it on then next year the thoughts behind the decision making will be clearer.

    Re the other thing about ‘Miller being undefeated by any woman in OCR’ are you still happy with that?

    • Oh definitely. There’s no denying others in the crew could carry weight better than Miller… but she could do a lot more better than the others, that would perhaps make her more suited to the theme of the programme. As well as saying “is Miller a liability if she can’t carry 120-160kg?” you could also say: “Is xx a liability if they crack under pressure?” “Is xx a liability if the cause division in the group?” “Is xx a liability if they lose respect for the chain of command?” “Is xx more worthy if they don’t have the same level of endurance?”. Really I think you need to be there to witness it all to be able to weigh up everything and decide which elements make each candidate more worthy – strengths and weaknesses need to be assessed, as not everyone is perfect in every way. At the end of the day, these are civilians taking on military tasks and being judged on how they handle it. They’re not military professionals looking for a career in the special forces with the necessary near-perfection throughout all elements. I think they need to judge the “best” or the “closest” to what they need with the 13 day window they have.

      When I talk about insiders, I also mean the other contestants, who would obviously be more independent in their views than the programme’s producers, or even the instructors. I think they all saw what Miller was capable from day one and they seem to have a lot of respect for what she achieved.

      From what I can make out, over the course of 13 days of constant beasting, Miller showed weakness on one day. That’s fairly impressive. And she backed it up with some performances that saved her on that same day. So really, that is far better than most. TV focused on that to cause tension I think. Even with the bandage task – it’s made to look like she messed up there, but actually she was the only one who remembered anything about the voice over that was playing, so you could say she did better than anyone… as really that was the aim of the task.

      I think if this programme were called “Should women be in the special forces” and the summary of that programme was “Yes, Clare Miller has proved that” I think the argument that you’re making could stand, but I don’t believe that’s what the programme ended up being – it was a series of selection tasks, with which the strongest and most worthy candidates progressed and I think the results were correct.

      On the Bake Off thing… you could say that she wasn’t worthy because she was last in the technical in the first week, or that she had a bad challenge in the penultimate week (can’t remember what that was for but I remember her crying about it). Not everyone’s perfect all of the time. Although we saw Miller falling over when she was putting a top heavy rucksack on…. we also saw her carry the burgeon and the 15kg rope to the summit a few minutes before that. Everyone has their off moments. TV will choose to show what it shows.

      Yah, I get what you’re saying about the undefeated OCR thing… it’s a can of worms but it depends whether Hell Runner is an OCR or not. There are no man made obstacles, even though there are plenty of natural ones. It’s tenuous I know… 😉

  5. Hi Pete,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I was going to start with the last bit first and say it was ridiculous to say Hell Runner isn’t an OCR when you have it the Mudstacle League, but then I noticed you had very quietly rewritten Miller’s CV and taken out the part about her being undefeated.

    To sneakily amend this without an apology this is staggering.

    The secret of Mudstacle’s success over the last few years has been its honest unbiased opinions whether it’s been written by you or other contributors. You and others have consistently stressed the sport’s cameraderie, integrity and willingness to help other competitors.

    But in this case you (and Miller) lost the plot.

    Before this show started, you wrote an article that cynically embellished Miller’s CV even though it took credit away from a phenomenal athlete Freya Martin. Martin is a 80 minute half marathon runner who had fairly beaten Miller earlier in the year, there’s no suggestion she has been anything but top class throughout her career. The victory was deserved yet ‘forgotten’ by you both.

    You may have had rose tinted specs on to do this, but this was daft and to try to get away with it throughout the duration of the show was crazy and like Bear G slipping away to his comfy hotels diminishes your brand. It can only be assumed you did it to assist Miller in any post show commercial interest as to argue it was a slip / a typo / an oversight doesn’t really wash.

    What’s worse is that Miller was happy to sign off on this although it was not just ‘CV Enhancing’ but took credit away from her own teammate. In the interview with Hellard her need for reassurance was mentioned several time but if airbrushing from the record her closest competitior’s achievements and victories are part of it then she should stick to being ‘Miller – uber mega determined athlete’ and avoid any hint of the ‘Miller – female role model’ tag.

    You made much of the mental and teamwork skills needed to succeed on the show and stressed Miller had these even when she lacked the physical parts. I think anyone would agree that when the Telegraph article (notably Miller’s derogatory comments about the men who carried her and her kit throughout the show) is put together with this treatment of a fellow teammate and close rival are weighed up she falls short in these areas as well.

    I appreciate this is pretty direct but if you both can’t see this then there’s not much anyone can do to help.

    Looking forward to the normally brilliant Mudstacle service resuming soon!

    • Sorry for the late response, I’ve only just noticed this comment.

      Also I’m sorry to hear that you are so aggrieved. I don’t think I’ve reedited any old articles but do remember writing that she is undefeated obstacle racer (or was it in a video?). The accuracy of that statement will depend on your definition of Hell Runner. Is it an obstacle race or a mud run? There aren’t any man made obstacles, so I would say it was a mud run. I don’t know, it’s a woolly area. That takes absolutely nothing away from Freya, and we celebrate her successes just as much. I think for describing “who Clare Miller is” to the public and “what her achievements are” I think it’s a fair statement that puts her past achievements into perspective and helps people to understand what kind of level of athlete she is.


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