By now you have probably witnessed the madness that is SAS Australia. Reality TV is one of Australia’s favourite genre’s and SAS Australia is no exception. Bringing in over 800,000 viewers an episode, making it one of the most viewed shows in Australia.
The quasi-military reality show enlisted 17 Australian celebrities from the entertainment, fitness, sporting and corporate world. Including the likes of; Nick Cummins the former Rugby player and accused drug trafficker Schapelle Corby to name a few.
We had the chance to interview one of Directing ‘Staff’ and former UK Special Services Solider, Matthew ‘Ollie’ Ollerton. We got well into the show, as well as his background in the UK Special Forces.
Coming from the relentless world of the UK Special Forces, what does it mean to you to be a part of a show like SAS Australia and be able to show viewers how hardcore your time as a soldier really was?
It’s about human performance. Yes, there are challenges to overcome but really it’s about shining a spotlight on topics that resonate with every genre. I’ve experienced my own battles and so have the other guys.
So, for example, we had Foxy open up on the UK show about PTSD, and the effect it had across the UK was eye-opening, it got people talking and sharing their own battles. It’s also really important to be paying back to veterans. The show is like a tribute and allows them to be proud of what they have gone through.
Mental health is a huge aspect of your life and career, how important is staying on top of your mental health for the celebrities taking part in SAS Australia?
Massive. The physical toll is huge but once your mind goes, that is it. You can see it in the recruit’s eyes.
We are there to help and they have each other, so that’s important, but you also need to rely on yourself. When faced with a new or stressful situation like SAS WDW, your first instinct is to panic and experience a load of negativity.
In the end, it’s a survival blueprint, it’s what we are pre-programmed to do, but its important to remember it’s a natural response. And often, we just need to observe our emotions, understand the situations we’re in and reassure ourselves that we are perfectly safe.
Trauma is expected in the life of a soldier who witnesses the horrors of war. How has your past trauma shaped you to be the powerhouse of a man you are today?
For me, it really can lead to a trickle effect. I’d known for years that I was hiding something with my mental health, and like many, I used alcohol as a coping mechanism, to filter out the trauma of what I had seen.
But really, it was coming out of this period that made me strong. I saw a spiritual psychologist, which helped me to arrest the thousands of thoughts spinning in my head. I then defined my purpose in 2011, which I’d always struggled with throughout my military career when I went to help rescue children out of sex traffickers’ camps on the Thai-Myanmar border, which was really humbling.
SAS training is considered one of the hardest tasks a human being can take part in and is considered a training program which thins out the herd. How was your experience?
What I went through is the hardest military training in the world. It pushes you to your mental and physical limits – you have to be fit, strong and when I did selection there were 350 people and only five of us passed at the end of the six months.
You get guys fitter than you, stronger than you, physically, but they all gave in. It’s about your mindset, your mind will give up much quicker than the body.
Which celebrities on the show, without giving any spoilers surprised you the most?
They all did! To be honest, I struggle to understand their motivation for putting themselves through such an arduous challenge in the first place, so they are all winners for even getting to the start line.
Aussie TV is jam-packed with countless reality TV programs. What sets apart SAS Australia from those reality shows already on air?
This isn’t your airbrushed reality TV soap, people are pushed to their limits, physically, mentally and go through experiences that will transform their minds and bodies. There’s also the spiritual side, so in the UK series, for instance, we had a retired boxer whose aggression was really burning him up inside. We helped him channel that aggression in a more positive and self-fulfilling manner before it got the better of him.
From your role as a Directing Staff on SAS Australia, your work as an author, public speaking, Battle Ready Fuel protein powder, to your fitness app Battle Ready 360. What is your motivation to go out into these ventures?
Purpose and that purpose is a sense of fulfilment I have found post-military in helping others. Whether it’s overcoming the egotistical barriers surrounding male masculinity and mental health or keeping fit and healthy over lockdown, so long as it affects people in a positive sense, I’m all for it.
Do you owe that dedication to your health to your Special Forces training?
Certainly, for the training, you have to be in peak physical condition and it does instil a sense of pride and confidence in being fit, well and ready for whatever the day throws at you. But really what I do now is for my own fulfilment. Exercise keeps my mind from derailing and my body feeling lethargic, so I think I’ll always keep in shape one way or another.
You can find out more about Ollie on his website.
Remember to tune into Channel 7 on Monday’s and Tuesday’s at 7:30 PM to see your favourite celebrities pushed to their absolute limit on SAS Australia.