A lot of people have been asking me about the film I made for Sky Atlantic – Big Phil’s War: Fighting ISIS – how it came about and whether there will be another one? To answer the last question first – yes, but getting these things together is hard, so you’ll have to wait a while! And how did it come about – well that’s what I’m going to write about for the next few weeks, as well as the stories behind what happened on screen, and all the stuff we never showed!

I first had the idea when I was talking to my producer Toby Sculthorp. When I’d first met Toby a few years ago he had given me one very simple piece of advice.

“No matter how vile the very vilest people you have ever met in all your travels all over the world Phil, nothing will prepare you for how vile the people are who work in television.”

And do you know what? He was right.

I’d read a lot about people from the West who were volunteering to go and fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq by linking up with Kurds. He agreed it was a good shout to try and track some of them down and find out what made them tick – and then the plan was to follow them all the way out to the Middle East and see what happened.

We both agreed it was a good idea – but as we all know – no plan ever lasts beyond the first point of contact!

The first trip I made was out to Rotterdam to see the motorcycle gang No Surrender. The press in Europe had been full of the story about how three members of the club had volunteered to fight with the Kurds, so naturally I was keen to catch up with the lads, share a few drinks and find out what was behind it all.

Now everyone knows that no self respecting MC  likes outsiders sticking their noses in – particularly journalists. And yes – like it or not – that was what I had become. From tearaway, to soldier, to a fully paid up member of Her Majesty’s Press Corps! It felt strange I can tell you. Like the bikers themselves, I had spent all my life avoiding anyone poking their noses into my business – and now I was the bloody poacher turned gamekeeper!