Author’s note: I know the title of this series is “Big Phil’s War,” but this is a little bit of a diversion to explain how I got into the filmmaking business in the first place. It’s all about hunting in the good old US of A, so I’m sure there’s plenty here to keep you reading!

Editor’s note: This is part of a series. Read parts one, two, and three here. 

Life has a funny way of turning out. When I left the SAS, I went to the employment office to find out what was on offer for someone with my skills—skills that Her Majesty’s Armed Forces had spent hundreds of thousands of pounds developing.

The answer? A lollipop man. For those of you over the pond there in the U.S., that means someone (usually retired) who stands in the middle of the road making sure that children cross the road safely to and from school. I’m sure that in its own way it is a highly skilled job and there is no doubt it is a tremendous value to the community, but let’s face it: It’s not really one for Big Phil, really.

And now the whole television caper seemed to be headed the same way. Instead of Big Phil’s SAS survival skills, first they wanted to test drugs on him, and now they wanted him in the kitchen.

“Don’t worry,” said Toby. There then followed the five words that I have come to dread throughout the time I have known him: “I will think of something.”

The upshot of the meeting with Channel 4 was that they were prepared to give us ten grand to shoot the pilot for a cookery show. Beyond that, there was not much indication what they wanted, but it didn’t take a genius to work out that it would involve more than Phil adding Tabasco to a takeaway curry.

I wanted to be involved as much as possible in any of the decisions that would be made, but there was a problem: I was on an overseas job in Jerusalem looking after one of the world’s most high-profile (and controversial) figures. Given the sensitivity of the assignment and the value of the client, I was on the go pretty much 24/7 and wholly in Toby’s hands back in London.