How close is this course to the real thing?
The way they are treated by the DS (Directing Staff) is absolutely on par with the “real thing”.
It might seem harsh, but you can’t be in a war-zone with someone who disagrees with the officer calling the shots or someone who crumbles in a heartbeat and puts the lives of everyone who is around them at risk.
In some ways it is more intense, because in this course, the DS only have a couple of weeks to determine who has what it takes.
In the Aussie army, soldiers would have been in the system training for the “real thing” for three to four years before they got to a course such as this.
There are parts of the course, like the ‘drownproofing’, where former SAS members were texting me saying it’s horrible at the best of times, but put freezing cold water into the mix and it’s next level!
What sort of medical assessment did you do with recruits before they started the course?
All celebrity recruits undertook a complete medical that assessed their physical health and resilience.
All the ‘oldies’ (the over 40s) had a rigorous heart check as well. But the most important aspect was a ‘Barrier Test’ – if the recruits didn’t pass this basic test, they weren’t allowed on selection.
Modelled on current Australian Special Forces testing regimes, I designed the Barrier Test to ensure each recruit had the requisite strength, endurance and skill to attempt selection safely.
Who lost the most weight during the show?
Constant physical exertion, little sleep, bitterly cold conditions and limited rations ensured all recruits did it tough.
There were no trips to the burger shop when the cameras stopped rolling, let me tell you! The two biggest blokes, Nick and James, each lost 7kg. Considering how lean they were to start with, that’s 7kg of muscle wasting away!
The boxing challenge at the start of the series looked brutal, and that was just the beginning of how tough this course was on recruits. How did you know when to step in?
Let’s just clear something up. Sabrina Frederick chose to fight Badger. She is probably one of the gutsiest women I have ever encountered in my life.
We’re now living in times when the military and the SAS don’t discriminate. Women are seen as equals. It’s not sexism. It’s survival.
How dangerous was it out there for the recruits?
Danger wasn’t the issue for recruits, fear was. Vigorous risk assessments and safety protocols ensured every activity could be conducted safely, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t terrifying.
What was the worst injury you had to treat?
The gash to Nick Cummins’ leg was pretty damn impressive. It was down to the bone, and he was millimetres away from a catastrophic injury. But a dozen stitches and daily dressings ensured he kept soldiering on.
When Shannan got hypothermia, could he have died?
He could have. But he was never going to. Even though you couldn’t see us, we were monitoring him constantly. I can assure you, on a few occasions, a few recruits needed a dose of cement and some guidance to harden up.
Did the weather increase the danger from a medical perspective?
The weather across the course was brutal. The elements pushed the conditions below freezing most days, and when you throw water in the mix, it was bloody hard work.
Which celebrity or celebrities surprised you on the show?
While the final handful impressed me, it was the two pocket rocket ladies – Erin [McNaught] and Molly [Taylor] – who inspired me the most. Pure grit, determination and toughness. But all with a smile and heart, and the ultimate team players.
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