This season’s Survivor has only just hit our screens and already there’s been behind-the- scenes drama after the show’s biggest star, Steve ‘Commando’ Willis, was forced to reconsider his position on the series in an explosive showdown with his partner Michelle Bridges.
The fitness guru made life so ‘difficult’ for the former military man in the lead-up to filming that Steve had no choice but to take drastic action to save his five-year relationship.
Publicly, Steve, 42, stated ahead of the reality show: ‘I love my family more than anything.
Not having contact with them is going to be very, very tough.’
However, according to New Idea’s sources, this declaration of loyalty wasn’t enough to stop Michelle, 47, worrying.
‘As the start date got closer Michelle couldn’t cope with the idea of him being away for so long,’ says our source. ‘She was becoming increasingly anxious and didn’t want him in such close quarters with attractive female contestants. She was also worried about all the attention he would be getting from fans once he was back in the spotlight again.’
It’s no secret that the fitness power couple began their relationship under a shadow of controversy in 2013, after Steve embarked on an affair with personal trainer Michelle who he’d met on The Biggest Loser.
After Steve left his long-term partner Froso, the couple moved in together and welcomed their now two-year-old son Axel.
But given his past and their six-year age gap, Michelle has always had fears of history repeating itself. So the presenter implemented relationship rules to keep them on track.
Tagging along on his business trips, Michelle banned the hunky star from signing female fans’ autographs, and asked him to ‘check in’ multiple times a day if he was out alone.
‘She keeps tabs on him,’ says our source. ‘She likes to know where he is, who he is with and when he will be coming home again. It’s always been like that and Steve understood, but that couldn’t happen with Survivor because you don’t have any contact with the outside world so it sent them into a spin.’
Turning to meditation to cope with the turmoil, Steve made the difficult decision to give up on his ‘comeback dream’, telling producers that he could no longer participate in the show – a move that left him heartbroken.
‘It wasn’t just Michelle he was worried about,’ says the source.
‘Axel is still so young and he was worried that if he made it to the final Axel may forget who he was. Steve has changed a lot since he was on The Biggest Loser. He is very spiritual now and family comes first. He loves that life and was torn leaving [his other] three kids behind too.’
But after emergency meetings with his manager and ‘interventions’ to calm Michelle’s concerns, the couple both agreed the offer was too good to refuse and he re-committed.
However, his return to reality TV has come with conditions – breaking his silence on their issues, Steve admitted in an interview there was a strict ‘no cuddling’ and ‘hands-off ’ policy when it comes to how he interacts with co-stars.
‘Michelle knows what happens on these shows,’ says the source. ‘She knows that contestants have hooked up before and she made sure he knew what she won’t accept and where she draws the line.’
However, Steve is adamant that he has his partner’s full support. ‘She was like: “If you commit to this, just do your best babe, be yourself – you’ve got my support,”’ he told The Daily Telegraph.
But following sneak peeks of what fans can expect, our sources say Michelle is seething about seeing her man in the buff alongside former Miss Universe teammate Monika Radulovic.
‘Lets just say they may have got through the hard part – and she is proud of his efforts – but Michelle is going to be glued to that television screen and analysing every move he makes,’ spills the source.
For the full story see this weeks issue of New Idea, on sale now.