A sneak peek of the third season of SAS Australia has finally arrived, with another group of high-profile recruits set to challenge their personal thresholds of pain and fear.
This time the show isn’t in the freezing Capertee Valley in New South Wales, but in a “brand new base in unforgiving jungle terrain, bordered by wild seas, dramatic cliff faces and rugged rocky outcrops”, according to the Seven network.
“There they will eat, sleep and train together in punishing conditions, with no allowances or exceptions made for their celebrity status or gender.”
The question is why?
Why would another lot of celebrities be super keen to sign up for a show that pushes the very limits of personal fear (being trapped underwater in a car), of challenges too dangerous for a normal person (dangling off the edge of a helicopter) and in this trailer, being set alight like a stuntman on a movie set.
Australian Psychological Society president Tamara Cavenett tells The New Daily: “We are social creatures by nature, and humans can exhibit a level of attraction to status and celebrity”.
“Celebrities may feel that they will not have the same experiences as their predecessors due to their superior ability or that the physical and mental stress of the experience is worth the potential reward of enhanced celebrity should they perform well,” Ms Cavenett said.
Chief instructor Ant Middleton, who has led the pack for the past two seasons, says it’s his job: “[It’s] to make people realise their full potential, by pushing them to their limits and beyond. Most people have never reached their boundaries before, so they don’t know what they’re capable of.
“It’s about breaking recruits down and then building them back up with
a different way of tackling problems and teamwork and leadership,” he said before the second season.
And with the 2022 list gearing up for “the most extreme” so far, the recruits are confirmed, including AFL champion Wayne Carey, 50, television personality Anna Heinrich, 34, retired NRL star Darius Boyd, 34, Olympic swimmer Geoff Huegill, 42, and convicted drug dealer Richard Buttrose, 49.
Previous recruits spill on why they went on the show
There’s a common theme among the contestants who go on the show – they all want to become a “better person”, take responsibility for things gone wrong in their personal or very public life, find redemption and dignity through sometimes horrible challenges.
And the humiliation of where they had to sleep, go to the bathroom, and what they were forced to eat was all suddenly forgotten when their time was up and they voluntarily withdrew.
When one of last year’s SAS Australia‘s finalists Jana Pittman left the bush camp and returned to a normal life with her husband and four children, she explained why she decided to appear on the show just six months after the birth of her son Charlie, saying “he was still a little guy”.
“Obviously we had a lot of nerves going in, ‘What it’s going to be like?’, ‘How well could you do?’, ‘How is it going to be portrayed in the media?’, but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done,” the former Olympic athlete told the Seven network.
Pittman is now having twins.
The only recruit to complete the course in the second season, Sam Burgess, 32, said the show was a chance for him to help sort his life out: “It also gave me a chance to become a better person, and I hope I have done that, and I take full responsibility for it.
“I had all the heart & head, but lacked the body to see it through … it’s so hard to see myself so vulnerable, but if this course has taught me anything, it’s surrendering to the pain & learning how to fail with grace.”
Rapper Isabella Rositano, 25, went in a Hell Week SAS challenge, and was culled by Middleton after struggling and falling behind the other recruits: “That was easily the best experience of my life.”
Dating coach Sarah Jeavons, 25, summed up the sentiment: “This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. I came here to prove a point, to prove my resilience, to prove that I’m capable of doing this, because I’ve doubted myself a lot throughout my life.”
One of the few recruits to suddenly realise he was on the wrong show was celebrity chef Manu Feildel, after he was submerged in a van for 40 seconds.
He stood up, handed in his number, shook the DS’s hand and walked off.
“I came on this course to prove something to myself, and I’ve just realised I don’t need to prove anything,” he said.
“I’ve got a f—ing good life, and I want it back.”
Adds Ms Cavenett: “Celebrities are people who often get what they want in life, so experiencing significant periods where this is challenged could give them a greater appreciation for their privilege.”
Guiding recruits through the most gruelling course yet is Chief Instructor Ant Middleton and returning DS (Directing Staff) Ollie Ollerton, joined for the first time by retired US Navy SEAL Clint Emerson and former British Special Forces soldier Dean Stott.
In a big change from the 2021 show, Jason ‘Foxy’ Fox or Mark ‘Billy’ Billingham aren’t in the picture.
Reality star Locky Gilbert, 32, motorsports presenter Riana Crehan, 34, singer Melissa Tkautz, 47, champion boxers Ebanie Bridges, 35, and Michael Zerafa, 29, have also volunteered for the “series of physical and psychological tests from the real SAS selection process”.
A picture begins to emerge of those who will be strong enough to go beyond their limits, but without a Schapelle Corby or Brynne Edelsten, it feels like this cohort may just be the biggest challenge yet for the DS.
As Middleton put it so delicately before season two got under way: “Don’t take the p-ss, don’t disrespect the process. Go in with an open mind, knowing that we’re going to strip away all of your facades and expose you for who you really are.
“That takes courage. A lot of people don’t like that. But a lot of people will look in the mirror, grit their teeth and be honest with themselves and
think, ‘This is what I needed, this is why I’m here’.”
APS’s Ms Cavenett recommends doing your homework before you go on the show.
“And importantly, don’t watch these programs if you find them distressing”.
SAS Australia, season three, screens on Channel 7 and 7plus in 2022.