2010
15.06

The Saville report finds the 1972 killings “unjustified and unjustifiable,” and the paras involved may face charges.
What do you think, GML readers? Should the soldiers be prosecuted? And what will McNab have to say?
Link to an article on the matter: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jun/15/bloodysunday-northernireland

2010
14.06

Andy talks about giving youngsters a better start, missing the army, Northern Ireland, making Kate Silverton blush and lots more…

Date 13 June, interview starts at 35min06

Go here to listen to the Kate Silverton show

Thanx Ali!!

2010
23.03

Times Online
March 8, 2010

The shadowy world of Andy McNab

He’s the SAS soldier turned bestselling author, and hero to every boy in Britain: but he has never revealed his identity

Next time you’re sitting on a London bus or a Tube train, take a good look at the man sitting next to you because it might just be Andy McNab, one of Britain’s biggest selling authors. His Boy Soldier series has teenagers hanging off his every word — but readers don’t know what he looks like.

Andy McNab isn’t even his real name — it’s a pseudonym.

“I like it because you get the best of both worlds,” says McNab. “I love my Oyster card and go everywhere by Tube. I’ve met people in the limelight and they can’t go shopping or go anywhere by public transport. I can get on with life.”

McNab worked on intelligence-gathering missions as a soldier in Northern Ireland years ago, so if his identity were revealed he and others could be in danger. Writing under a false name can have its funny side. “I once met myself,” says McNab with a laugh. “My wife and I were in a pub and we met a man who said he was Andy McNab. I didn’t let on, of course, and he even bought me a drink!”

McNab’s new book for younger readers is Drop Zone (Doubleday, £10.99 in hardback), a thriller about a teenage boy who gets hooked on the adrenaline rush of skydiving. It’s a subject close to McNab’s heart: he has done about 1,400 skydives as a soldier and skydiving is one of his favourite sports.

The book is filled with nailbiting drama and hard-hitting action, but the author has no doubt that his readers can handle it. “Young people are switched on and you can’t patronise them. Twelve-year-olds are watching the news and programmes such as EastEnders that have their fair share of violence,” he says.

But for McNab, Drop Zone is about more than thrills and spills. When he joined the infantry at 16, he discovered that he had a reading age of 11 — and now he hopes to get every boy in Britain into books, so they don’t find themselves in the same position.

“For me, getting into education was an uphill struggle,” says McNab, who was found abandoned on the steps of a hospital as a baby and adopted. “But once I got it, I realised how important numeracy and literacy are. You need to be able to read, no matter what you’re going to do. Even if you want to be a fantastic footballer like David Beckham, you’ll be given these contracts that are three or four hundred pages long. And if you can’t understand them, you’ll end up opening a Tesco’s every Saturday.”

And with that, Andy McNab slips off into the crowds, anonymous and free as a bird.

Source: Times Online

2009
27.04

“I put a suit on and played a policeman. I didn’t have any lines or anything but managed to mess it up six times,”

The Northern Echo – Who dares, wins
Monday 27th April 2009

Former SAS officer Andy McNab was well qualified to take part in a poll to discover the ultimate film action hero. Kill count, creative ass-kicking and sex appeal were all taken into account, he tells Steve Pratt. As A former SAS officer Andy McNab has been at the heart of a lot of action.

Quite how that compares to negotiating the busy traffic in Lyons, I don’t know. But that’s what he’s doing as we conduct our phone interview as he returns from Italy where he’s been learning to sail.

Or not learning to sail… “It’s been a nightmare and the weather has been crappy,” says the former soldier who enlisted in the Royal Green Jackets at the age of 16.

But I’m not here to talk about driving with the former soldier whose account of the failed SAS mission Bravo Two Zero in the Gulf War became the highest selling war book of all time, with more than 1.7 million copies being bought. It was filmed for TV with Sean Bean starring as McNab, who’s now a successful writer of fiction and runs his own security company.

Whether Bean is a dead ringer for the SAS hero is anyone’s guess. Because of past military operations, McNab must remain a shadowy figure. That’s not even his real name as he must protect his identity. His website shows only a shadowy figure where his mugshot should be. This is a legacy of his undercover work in anti-terrorism and anti-drug operations around the world.

“During the war in Northern Ireland I was part of an intelligence operation. Obviously, if I show my face, it’s potentially dangerous to other people in the group,” he explains in an accent which betrays his London roots.

What isn’t a secret is his participation in a Sky Movies poll to discover the ultimate action hero. He was on a panel of real-life action heroes and film industry experts who judged a shortlist of all-time top ten action heroes. Each star was judged on five categories – weapons, one-liners, kill count, creative ass-kicking and sex appeal.

“I thought it was great just getting to watch all the films again,” says McNab. “Obviously, it’s a bit of a laugh really, but when you start to look at them, you can see the way the genre has changed over the past 15 years with all the technology and all the stuff in the Bourne films.”

If you’re just “just looking at rough action and having a laugh and being entertained”, then the Eighties and Nineties were the prime time to go into action. He remembers watching Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator and how the success of his “I’ll be back” robot led to some of his other lesser films – he cites Commando – being seen in a better light.

“There’s obviously a lot more technology and effects now, but the stuff in Terminator and Alien was mindblowing then,” says McNab. “It feels a lot rawer, even the Stallone stuff. Those films get shown more than anything else. If you’re in a picturehouse in Mumbai and can’t speak English, you don’t want too much dialogue. All you want is to understand what’s going on.”

McNab doesn’t pretend that action movies reflect real life. He’s not being casual about k i l l i n g (his biography says he killed for the first time at 19 during a firefight in Northern Ireland), but realistic about action used as entertainment. But it does come as a shock to see the name at the top of the action hero poll – Sigourney Weaver, for her portrayal of tough, no-nonsense alien killer Ripley in the Alien space movies. As McNab says: “It all comes down to the T-shirt.”

She leads the list, ahead of Schwarzenegger, Stallone and, surprisingly, Chuck Norris. Completing the rollcall are Matt Damon (who starred in the three Bourne thrillers), a pair of Bruces – Willis and Lee – Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jason Statham and Steven Seagal. Weaver’s Ripley earned top marks for creative ass-kicking (fighting the Alien Queen in the cargo loader) and kill count (she nuked a space ship in Alien and a planet in Aliens, as well as dispatching countless acid-bleeding creatures).

“She just outclassed everyone in all the categories,” says McNab. “Plus, she looks much better kicking ass in a vest than Bruce Willis will ever do.” The fact that it was a woman doing it earned her extra points in his book. Milla Jovovich in the Resident Evil movies has also impressed him.

He clearly knows his movies without counting himself a film fan. “It’s not as if I’m queueing up two hours before the show on the first night,” he says in his defence. “But those films are fun. You go and get your popcorn and are entertained. You don’t have a big in-depth discussion.” Experience enables him to separate fact and fiction. “It’s a shame when people say ‘that wouldn’t happen’. Film-makers are trying to make a fantasy. If someone like Schwarzenegger punched you, you’re not getting up in real life.”

When he left the SAS in 1993, McNab was the British Army’s most highly decorated serving soldier. Since then he’s forged a career as a writer and security expert. His company runs specialist training courses for news crews, journalists and members of non-governmental organisations working in hostile environments, including war zones. He’s involved in training videos for the Ministry of Defence, lectures for the FBI and gives motivational talk for large corporations on both sides of the Atlantic.

He’s unlikely to outdo Weaver and the others as a screen action hero. He did work on Michael Mann’s thriller Heat, starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, where the director was keen to make the shootouts as authentic as possible. “They were trying to make it realistic to the point of obsession. What you saw on film the actors had done on firing ranges beforehand,” he says. Mann insisted that he appear in the film, if only in the background of the action. “I put a suit on and played a policeman. I didn’t have any lines or anything but managed to mess it up six times,” he admits.

For the BBC, McNab is developing a series called Warrior Nation about a rifle company in Afghanistan. The idea is to look at a regular company and the 18 to 20-year-olds in it. “We’re already talking to the MoD and they’re very keen. That’s good and soldiers want to be in it now,” he says.

Not much like the old Robson Green series Soldier Soldier, I suggest. “The beauty of that was it was nothing to do with the Army, just a couple of lads who used to be in the Army. It wasn’t about conflict and what’s going on,” he says.

“I think certainly any rifle company will recognise itself in the series. With representatives from the commonwealth and the inner city, there will be lots of different characters. “One of the reasons I’m able to do Warrior Nation is because I go to Afghanistan and spend a lot of time with the battalion there. It’s interesting to see what the reality is and compare it to what people think it is.”

McNab may go to areas of conflict but isn’t fighting on the ground. He doesn’t miss the danger. “Not at all,” he insists. “Most people, once you get over that initial two or three years where it’s all exciting, find their time is up and it’s all over. It’s a job, although it’s not as bland as that makes it sound.”

Go here to read the article and the top list of Action Heroes

Girrrrrlpower! Cool – the Ultimate Action Hero is a woman!! Now, if you work with Vista too you will love the quote from Ripley in Alien. 😉

Ripley: Mother! I’ve turned the cooling unit back on. Mother!
Mother: The ship will automatically destruct in “T” minus five minutes.
Ripley: You… BITCH!
[smashes computer monitor with flamethrower]

2008
22.12

There’s even big fan clubs where every single word is analysed!

An interview in the Irish Sunday Business Post by Gavin Daly.

Soldier of Fortune

The man behind the pseudonym of Andy McNab has seen his life transformed beyond belief, from battling through enemy territory with Britain’s special forces regiment, to writing best-selling books and documentaries – and occasionally even hobnobbing with Robert De Niro.

In the lobby of a plush Dublin hotel, a man who cannot reveal his full identity is talking about things that don’t usually get discussed in such surroundings. ‘‘The new body armour is stunning,” he says. ‘‘When I was in Afghanistan in September, a parachute regiment lad took a 50 cal round – you know, a big thing designed to hit tanks – into his chest. It knocked him over, broke his ribs and all that – but he staggered up, he was all right. Without doubt, it’s the best gear anybody has got.”

Welcome to the world of AndyMcNab. Or rather, welcome to the world of the man known as Andy McNab – a former delinquent who became a boy soldier at 16 and went on to become a decorated SAS (Special Air Service) officer and bestselling author. A broad-shouldered 48-year-old of average height, McNab doesn’t look out of place in the hotel surroundings, and there is nothing to betray his background. But his face can’t be photographed and, when asked for his real name, McNab demurs. ‘‘My mates know,’’ McNab says, pausing for some deadpan military humour: ‘‘Well, normally, it’s just ‘dickhead’.”

McNab has been out of the British army for 15 years, but he never cut his ties with the organisation that made him a household name after the first Gulf War. In 1991, McNab led an eight-man patrol, Bravo Two Zero, into Iraq to locate and destroy Scud missile launchers and disrupt the country’s communications systems. But after a series of ‘‘cock-ups’’, just one member of the patrol made it out. Three were killed and four – including McNab – were captured and ‘‘went through an interrogation process’’. McNab spent four weeks in an Iraqi interrogation centre and three weeks in Abu Ghraib prison. ‘‘Obviously,” he says, ‘‘it’s quite well-known now.” One day, he was lined up with other captives facing a wall. Behind them, their Iraqi captors cocked their weapons. ‘‘We all thought we was going to get dropped,” says McNab, mixing his native London dialect with decades of Army-speak. ‘‘I’m like, ‘well fuck it, here we go’.” But it was actually a parting ploy from the Iraqis – when one of the captives started to break down, they laughed, secured their weapons and released the prisoners to the Red Cross. McNab went back to soldiering, content that his training had worked. ‘‘Of course, fuck that, I don’t want that to happen again,” is how he describes the episode. ‘‘But actually, it’s all right, I’m here, I’m getting sorted out. I like being in the army, it’s alright.” When he did leave two years later, he was Britain’s most highly-decorated soldier.

McNab was working in private security in Colombia a short time later when the army came looking for him. Keen to end – or at least influence – conjecture about what had happened in Iraq, the army establishment effectively commissioned McNab to tell his story. Bravo Two Zero, his account of the disastrous operation, has since sold over 1.7million copies in Britain and been translated into 16 languages. Using the real identity of a former SAS officer who had been in the North, south-east Asia, Africa, South America and ‘‘lots in the Middle East’’ wasn’t an option, so Andy McNab was born.

‘‘It took five seconds [to come up with],” he says of his alter-ego. ‘‘There was a PacMan game years ago called Munchin’ McNab and that was it. It’s short and sharp and it fit on the cover. That’s all, like a trade name. It was just going to be the one book.”

That’s not how it worked out. McNab has since put his name to two other non-fiction books, including his autobiography, Immediate Action, which has sold more than 1.4million copies in Britain. He has written a ‘Boy Soldier’ series of books for children and 11 thrillers featuring the character of Nick Stone – the latest of which, Brute Force, has just been published. There are McNab watches, beer and ‘‘all sorts of shit’’ available globally. Heady times, you’d think, but McNab is matter-of-fact both about his army career and about what has happened him since.

By his own admission, he was poor at reading and writing as a child, and was in juvenile detention for breaking and entering when he was recruited to the army at the age of 16.Now, he is a wealthy writer (‘‘not so much an author, because author sounds quite establishment,” he says) with film and television projects to his name. Was it a huge transition? ‘‘Actually, I was quite cocky,” he says. ‘‘I wrote Bravo Two Zero in four months. I knew the story; it’s what I now know is a linear story – that’s where it starts, that’s where it ends. Then I had another two months messing about with it, giving it a sense of place, environment, all that.” He took some inspiration from Joe Simpson, the mountaineer who turned to writing after he almost died on an expedition in Chile in 1985. Simpson wrote his classic, Touching the Void, to clear up controversy over the fact that his climbing partner had cut the rope they were sharing. ‘‘It’s such a good book – that sense of place and feel and environment,’’ McNab says of Touching the Void. ‘‘I spent those two months [with Bravo Two Zero] basically putting in the sense of place and all that stuff. Then it went public  and it went ballistic.”

McNab was back in Colombia when the idea of a second book was floated. ‘‘I was on this job and I got this call from the publisher: ‘Do you fancy doing another?’.And it was pissing down rain and I have six weeks’ [beard] growth and it was, ‘well, what the fuck do you think?’. That’s how it all started. It was good.”

‘‘Good’’ is probably an understatement. When Robert DeNiro read Bravo Two Zero, McNab was asked to be the technical weapons adviser on Heat, the Michael Mann film that also starred Al Pacino. He also did ‘‘a bit on Black Hawk Down’’ and films by Jason Statham. ‘‘It was from one extreme to the other,’’ McNab says. ‘‘I was in the regiment, got out and did this whole Bravo Two Zero thing. Within a year, I’m in LA fucking about with DeNiro and all the other lads. It was automatic weapons, Los Angeles and banks. It was fantastic.” Working with Mann also propelled McNab’s fiction-writing career. McNab hadn’t read much as a child, so Mann suggested he think more like a film-maker, ‘seeing’ chapters in his books as scenes, rather than as a daunting volume of work. ‘‘It’s all pictures anyway – you’re trying to create a picture, aren’t you?” he says. ‘‘I just think of it that way.’’

Even 15 years on, however, he cannot say that he enjoys writing. ‘‘No,” he says emphatically, in answer to that question. Does it get easier with each book? ‘‘No.” ‘‘It started as an invitation to write a book, but it’s a business now,” he says. He takes a businesslike approach, starting each book in January, with a deadline of Easter for a ‘‘decent’’ first draft. (‘‘Which this year was a pain in the arse, because Easter was early,” he says.) ‘‘Once I’ve got that first draft, then I start to enjoy it. Then I just keep on ripping it apart and work on layering and layering.”

His relationship with the army means he has plenty of primary material – his last thriller, Crossfire, included fictionalised versions of real operations he accompanied recently in Iraq. Last September, he was in Afghanistan with British units.
McNab’s new thriller Brute Force has an IRA theme and scenes set in Ireland, but McNab gives nothing away about the three years he spent in the North – both as an infantry soldier and a member of the SAS. ‘‘Once you get involved in the covert stuff, you start to understand, you get it,” he says. ‘‘If I lived in the Bogside, I’d probably have joined the IRA. But I didn’t, I lived in south London, so I joined the army.” He believes that the North was ‘‘propelled’’ towards peace after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 brought international pressure to bear on all terrorist groups. Unsurprisingly, he has clear-cut views about the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan – the former is about oil, he says, while the latter is about tackling terrorism. Both need to be seen through with a combination of military action and reconstruction, according to McNab. ‘‘Afghanistan affects our daily life; and Iraq will affect our daily life if we don’t get the oil wells working,” he says.

McNab remains close to the defence establishment, helping to train soldiers and working on education and veterans’ projects. ‘‘I do as much as I can with infantry recruits, because the average literacy age of an infantry soldier is about 11,” he says. ‘‘That’s because, well, the education system is shit.”

His fame opens doors – he has met the British defence minister (‘‘he’s all right’’) and is due to have tea with Prince Charles next month. However, he doesn’t get too caught up in his own hype. ‘‘I don’t even know how many [copies] the last book sold; I can’t be arsed, there’s not enough time,” he says. ‘‘Ultimately, if people like them, they buy them. It increases 5-15 per cent every year depending on what territory you take. Places like Japan, there’s a frenzy.” He claims to be equally unconcerned about his audience, although his publishers and marketing people have probably done considerable market research. ‘‘I’m writing for me, not for anyone else,” he says. ‘‘My nine-year-old godson reads these. And the readership is 45 per cent female. There’s even big fan clubs where every single word is analysed!”

McNab will start his next book in January, but he has plenty to keep him busy until then. A documentary series, McNab’s Tour of Duty, has just been released on DVD, while a film version of one of his thrillers and an eight-part BBC drama – called Warrior Nation – are in the pipeline, with release dates in 2010.

‘‘It’s that weird thing where a little bit of success brings another little bit,” he says. ‘‘You’ve been given the opportunity and you gotta have a go. And yeah, I’m rich. But it’s always been a punt, and it still is really. It’s great, it’s lovely, but it’s not forever; as quick as it comes, it goes.”

Source: Sunday Business Post Online

2008
06.11

Female First (also Male First) Helen Earnshaw interviewed Andy who’s ‘on tour’ promoting the release of the ‘Tour of Duty’ DVD.

Andy McNab is a British soldier, serving in the infantry as a Royal Green Jacket, joining the infantry at the age of sixteen and serving in Northern Ireland before being selected for the SAS.

In the SAS he served in the Middle East as well as Southern and Central America. He shot to prominence in 1993 when, after leaving the SAS, he wrote a book on the failed mission Bravo Two Zero, which told of the events that happened during the Gulf War.

Since then he has gone on to write a series of fiction and non fiction novels and has, more recently, been behind the documentary Tour of Duty which looked at the soldiers serving in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. I caught up with him to talk about his new project.

You are promoting your DVD Tour of Duty can you tell me a bit about it?

“For the past three or four years all the stories that are coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan it’s always someone else telling the stories, so the idea is to get the guys that were involved in these things to talk about it themselves. Instead of me sitting there all day gobbing off about it, lets get these lads in as they know the story well, they are articulate and actually what happens is you get all the emotion and you can identify with them.”

Read the full interview here (2 pages!)