SAS Who Dares Wins 2021: when is new series on Channel 4, is Ant Middleton in it, and who is Melvyn Downes?
Mark ‘Billy’ Billingham has said ‘the show goes on’ after Ant Middleton was axed from it in March
On 9 March, The next series of SAS: Who Dares Wins will begin, with Ant Middleton making an appearance in the show despite been dropped by Channel 4 in March.
Channel 4 has revealed the drill staff who will support 21 new contestants as they undergo the gruelling army-style training.
So, why is Ant Middleton on the show, when is it back on television and who else will feature? This is what we know so far.
What is SAS: Who Dares Wins?
In the show, eight contestants are put through a series of challenges by former members of the Special Forces.
Though there is no prize and winners do not actually join the armed forces afterwards, they are rewarded with the glory of having been mentally and physically tough enough to make it to the end.
Who are the hosts - and why is Ant Middleton in the series?
The new recruits will be put through their paces by former members of the Special Forces, including returning leaders Jason Fox and Mark ‘Billy’ Billingham.
Ant Middleton, who was axed from the Channel 4 show in March, will also appear on the upcoming series as filming was completed before he was dropped.
The team will be joined by former soldier Melvyn Downes, who replaces Ollie Ollerton and is the first mixed-race officer on the show.
Why did Ant Middleton get dropped from the show?
Middleton was axed from the show on 2 March 2021, for making controversial comments about Covid and Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests.
Female colleagues also made allegations of ‘inappropriate comments’, The Mirror reported.
He refuted all allegations of misconduct and posted a video on Twitter defending his tweet about BLM protestors.
However, he had also made comments about breaking Covid lockdown restrictions and Channel 4 was quick to distance itself from him.
Middleton told his 1.1M Instagram followers to “get out there,” adding “Am I still out traveling the world? Yes.
“Am I still shaking hands? Yes. Am I still cuddling fans at the airport? Yes.
“Am I washing my hands and keeping my hygiene to a high standard as always? Yes.
“Has my life changed? No. Am I going to let some disease, Covid-19, dictate my life? Absolutely not. Get out there, don’t change, f*** Covid-19.”
In March, Middleton was axed from the show.
Channel 4 released a statement, which said: "Ant Middleton will not be taking part in future series of SAS: Who Dares Wins.
“Following a number of discussions Channel 4 and Minnow Films have had with him in relation to his personal conduct it has become clear that our views and values are not aligned and we will not be working with him again.”
However, Ant said he had decided to walk away from the show due to “the woke patrol.”
Despite his departure, channel 4 and Minnow productions had already filmed the upcoming series and a celebrity series before he left, so he will be in all 2021 series.
Channel 4 has also confirmed future series will go ahead without Middleton, with DS Billingham commenting “The show goes on”.
Who is Melvyn Downes?
Melvyn Downes is a 55-year-old former member of the Special Forces, who served for 24 years in the British military.
Twelve of those were spent carrying out missions for the SAS and he has since become a scout leader.
He confirmed his involvement in the show, and said he hopes to represent minorities and working class men from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Downes told the Sun: "I know people are going to say it’s all about race, but I don’t see it that way.
"I had 24 years in the British military, got to senior rank as a Warrant Officer and led countless SAS operations, I think I have got the necessary experience first of all to back it up."
He added: "Being the first mixed-race DS is going to be a great opportunity as I can represent the under-represented in life — not just minorities, I’m talking about people from deprived, working-class backgrounds."
Downes replaces Ollie Ollerton, who now leads on the Australian version of the show after Channel 4 bosses dropped him in 2020 to diversify the drill instructor line up.
At the time, Ollerton expressed his upset at the decision, telling the Sun: “I’m disappointed and shocked at the same time because we had record viewing figures.
“Five years ago we put our heads above the parapet for the first time ever – threatening our security as former members of the Special Forces – to bring that show to fruition. I expected that loyalty to be reciprocated. It clearly wasn’t.”
Where was SAS: Who Dares Wins filmed this year?
For the 2021 series, recruits were taken to the Scottish Island of Raasay, known for it’s difficult terrain and challenging weather.
The island is about a 25-minute ferry journey from the Isle of Skye, just off the north west coast of Scotland.
The celebrity spin-off of the show was also filmed there and will air later in 2021.
When is the SAS: Who Dares Wins 2021 on TV?
The first episode of SAS: Who Dares Wins will air on Channel 4 on Sunday, 9 May at 9pm.
It will then air weekly, on Sundays.
The show will also be available to view on demand, on 4oD.