It’s the job of ′SAS Australia′ chief instructor Ant Middleton to grill celebrities about their pasts but the former soldier has had his own share of controversies while in the spotlight.
In June the 39-year-old – known for also appearing on the UK’s version of the show, ‘SAS: Who Dares Wins’ – was called out for a deleted tweet in which he used the word “scum” in reference to Black Lives Matter protesters.
The tweet, which was published by the Mirror, read: “The extreme left against the extreme right. When did two wrongs make a right. It was only a matter of time. BLM and EDL are not welcome on our streets, absolute scum. What a great example you are to your future generation. Bravo.”
EDL refers to the English Defence League, a far-right organisation in the UK. His comments came after a day of violent clashes between far-right protesters and police in central London.
A few days later he shared a video on his Twitter account apologising “if my tweet came across as offensive”.
In a message accompanying his video, he wrote: “In relation to a tweet I took down over the weekend. I took it down immediately but I wanted to make sure I’ve been clear and upfront about why I took it down.”
He then said: “I’d just like to clarify a tweet I put out this weekend and deleted straight away, once I re-read and realised it could cause offence.
“I put out a tweet, retweeted a video of the violence, the terror, the chaos that was happening on the streets of London and within that tweet I mentioned the BLM and the EDL and the word ‘scum’.”
“At no point was I calling the BLM scum and comparing [the] two organisations,” he continued. “I want to make that really clear.
“The word scum was used to describe the people in video that were violent, that were causing terror on the streets of London, and setting a bad example for our future generation.”
He added: “For those of you who know me, I’m a people’s person, I love people, I’m anti-racist and I’m anti-violence, having lived and seen what violence does to people and cities and countries.
“So I apologise if my tweet came across as offensive. I never meant for that. I’m here to push for positive change.”
His ‘SAS: Who Dares Wins’ co-star Ollie Ollerton, who also stars in the Australian version, said the backlash Ant received was “a little unfair”.
“If I was Ant I would have maybe worded it a bit different but I do realise what Ant was saying and I think it just got misguided what his message was,” he told Metro.
“In hindsight, you’ve just got to be careful saying stuff like that but I just know Ant has got a heart of gold regardless of what people think. It wasn’t a direct attack on BLM or anything like that. It was more [about] people fighting on the streets, this is not what we need at the moment.”
In August Ollie also responded to reports he had been dropped from the UK ‘SAS’ series after five years due to a “diversity drive”.
“There are two types of people in this world, those who can do the job and those who can’t. I don’t care what colour they are,” he told The Sun.
“I feel people forcing the diversity agenda upon us are actually keeping racism alive and creating a divide. It doesn’t allow us to unify.”
Ant also faced social media backlash earlier after claiming he was “not bothered” about the COVID-19 outbreak, instructing everyone to “calm the fuck down”.
He said: “COVID-19 doesn’t bother me. Why?!? Because I’m strong and able like the majority of us and it has no benefit or positive impact on my life.
“If you are vulnerable to COVID-19 then the ‘expert advice’ is yours to take on board, listen to it! Because it doesn’t effect me, it is merely ‘advice’! [sic].”
He later backtracked on his remarks, claiming he’d “made a mistake” and that he’d been “a bit insensitive towards the magnitude, the scale, of the crisis”.
In a video posted on Instagram, Ant claimed he’d been “in a bubble”, while filming ‘SAS Australia’ in New Zealand.
“Now I’ve come out of this bubble I’ve realised I’ve probably been a bit insensitive towards the magnitude, the scale, of the crisis that’s happening in the UK,” he explained.
“I’ve decided to admit that I made a mistake. I always talk about integrity, take that on the chin and come back to the UK and do the best that I possibly can.”
Ant also removed the videos in which he contradicted the government and health officials’ advice regarding COVID-19, as he “wouldn’t want people to come across that now”.
SAS Comes To Australia
Ant and a team of ex-Special Forces soldiers called his DS (Directing Staff) travelled to New Zealand earlier this year to film ‘SAS Australia’, before relocating to Australia to film the remainder of the show due to COVID-19 restrictions.
His team included Ollie Ollerton, Mark ‘Billy’ Billingham and Jason ‘Foxy’ Fox.
The 17 Australian celebrities who competed on the show were ’The Bachelorette’s Ali Oetjen, glamour model Arabella Del Busso, ironwoman and cricket WAG Candice Warner, ‘Love Island’ star Eden Dally, former Miss Universe Australia Erin McNaught, actor Firas Dirani, Shane Warne’s son Jackson, swimmer James Magnussen, comedian Merrick Watts, cricketer Mitchell Johnson, rally car champion Molly Taylor, former ‘Bachelor’ and rugby union player Nick ‘Honeybadger’ Cummins, AFLW player Sabrina Frederick, former Bali inmate Schapelle Corby, ex ‘Biggest Loser’ trainer Shannon Ponton and swimming gold medallist Shayna Jack.
On Tuesday night Schapelle and Arabella quit the show after Roxy Jacenko left during Monday’s premiere.
‘SAS Australia’ continues on Monday at 7:30pm on Channel 7.
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