When it comes to reality TV, it’s always a bit hit or miss what sort of show you’re going to get. Churchill’s Secret Society is an interesting one in that respect, blending together educational history with a reality competition format, designed to showcase some of the tough conditions and training the SOE had to endure. For the most part it works really well although some early forced drama between the recruits does take some of the shine off this one.
Beginning with the recruitment process and following through to one final test at the end, the five episodes follow the same path those in 1940 took, through all the rigorous physical and mental trials along the way. Designed to turn ordinary, everyday folk into members of Churchill’s elite secret army, the series blends archival footage, informative narration and a reality TV competition to emphasize what these people had to go through in the war.
Accompanying these challenges are bites of archival footage that give more background on the mood, tone and history of the time. From planting explosives in rats through to Morse code and hand to hand combat, there’s a real authenticity to how everything is set up and executed. Some of this is helped by numerous experts in different fields showing up in the episodes with the recruits. Whether it be historians or ex-Special Forces serviceman, their influence helps make this as historically accurate as possible.
When it comes to reality TV, Churchill’s Secret Agents is an example of how to do this genre correctly, in a way that doesn’t feel contrived or overly forced. Despite some early drama between the candidates, the episodes are enjoyable and flow really well, ending with a 24-hour rehearsal mission where the remaining candidates put into practice everything they’ve learnt up until that point.
It’s not perfect, and at times it does fall into the traditional reality TV tropes you’d expect from this genre, but for the most part Churchill’s Secret Agents is executed really well, making it one of the better reality TV offerings.