16 Princes Gate in London. It is not an address you may instantly recognise, but in 1980 that was the location for the Iranian Embassy in London. On 30 April 1980, six members of the Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan stormed the embassy, armed with pistols, machine guns and grenades, quickly over-powering the UK Police Constable on duty outside the embassy and the embassy staff inside. 6 Days tells the story of the UK Government’s response to such an unprecedented attack on UK soil.
The film centres around the character L/Cpl Rusty Firmin SAS portrayed by Jamie Bell, who is stepped up to lead an assault team when the terrorists kill a hostage, despite the best efforts of the Police negotiators.
6 Days captures the build up to the SAS raid showing the endless drills, the correction of floor layouts, the planning processes and the refinement of those plans as new information is received. It also captures the political mood of the day when a proposed solution is rejected because it was too similar to a technique used at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
The film also gives an insight into the pressures the Police negotiators faced during the siege. Endless phone calls in both directions, with the terrorists making demands that were never going to be granted and the Police countering with offers of assistance designed to get hostages released.
6 Days builds up to the raid itself. A hostage has been killed and in doing so, they have sealed their own fate in the eyes of the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. As the plot centres around “Rusty”, the assault mainly covers what happened at the rear of the embassy. One trooper is entangled in his descent gear and risks being burnt alive from flames from a fire within, before being cut free by others. Instead of the frame charge being used to breach the back door, that team has to use a sledgehammer instead, to avoid injuring the Trooper stuck on his rope. Whilst the rear of the building did play host to a lot of action, the film had only minimal content relating to the world famous ‘balcony scene’ which featured John MacAleese MM placing the frame charge to blown out a first floor window and the subsequent appearance and rescue of BBC sound recordist, Sim Harris.
Perhaps the filmmakers were trying to tell the story from a different angle?
All in all I quite enjoyed the film. It showed the pressures, the teamwork, the dark humour used by those who routinely put their lives on the line and for me, it brought back an event I remember watching with the rest of the nation at the time, unfold on our TV screens.
The news coverage introduced the world a new breed of heroes, the Special Air Service Regiment. It was their first public ‘outing’ and ensured the regiment, initially created by Lt. Col. Archibald David Stirling during World War II would be known, and feared, across the world.
6 Days is currently available for streaming on Netflix.