Merrick Watts has lifted the lid on the ‘unseen brutality’ about competing on SAS Australia.
The Aussie comedian, who was one of the only three contestants to pass the gruelling course, has told 7NEWS.com.au that food deprivation was perhaps the most brutal aspect of the selection course.
“Food deprivation is an unseen brutality we lived with. We were always hungry,” Watts said after the show’s finale on Tuesday night.
“To be honest breakfast was gruel, it was just porridge.
“For lunch we had a bowl of soup, a bread roll and a mandarin (these were treated like gold) – and meat with rice or vegetables for dinner.
“No salt, no pepper, no sauces at any stage.”
To make matters worse for Watts and the other contestants, the rations were brutally cut down in the second week of filming, as the SAS Directing Staff looked to push the recruits to their absolute limits.
“In the second week it started becoming really spartan, we were definitely being calorie restricted,” Watts said.
“We were given minimal quantities of everything and it left us constantly thinking and talking about food and how starving we were. It really became extremely tough.”
The 47-year-old explained that the food rations, coupled with the intense physical challenges, left his body ruined by the completion of filming.
“I started the show at 82.5kg and by the end of it I was 76kg – so I lost about six kilograms by the end,” Watts told 7NEWS.com.au.
“What’s interesting is I burnt off all my fat in the first six or seven days, then it just started eating away at all my muscle, that’s why we all looked so gaunt and thin by the end of the show.”
Watts, who the experience of SAS Australia was actually more intense than how it appeared on TV, also shone a light on two other challenges the recruits faced that viewers might have missed.
Watts describes the constant cold during two weeks of filming in the NSW Snowy Mountains as the “hidden menace” of the experience.
“We were ALWAYS cold. It was minus four degrees one night and we were outside in long sleeve t-shirts,” Watts told 7NEWS.com.au.
“The cold is part of being constantly uncomfortable. We needed to learn to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
“Most mornings we’d go to the washing troughs near the parade ground to wash only to see the water had completely frozen over.
“The hardest part of cold? Being cold AND wet. A very dangerous combination that we risked daily. We all battled hypothermia at times, some took a greater toll than others.”
Watts said the chores the recruits had to do around the camp ended up being “extremely tiring” – especially after a day of intense SAS training.
However the ‘maintenance’ around camp was utterly crucial, especially when it came down to keep their gear dry in frigid temperatures.
“The other hidden battle we were dealing with was that we were actually given intense chores to do while we were around the camp,” Watts said.
“We had to do a lot of maintenance of the camp which was extremely tiring
“Every time our kit got wet we had to rush back and get the fires on in order to get our stuff dry by the next day.
“We’d first have to wash our dirty clothes in freezing cold water which absolutely ruined your hands.
“It was absolutely imperative to have everything dry, if you stayed in your wet clothes too long you would freeze and get hypothermia.
“So a major job was chopping and preparing firewood – it was utterly essential to keep us going. It had to be done every single day and it was laborious.
He said the outcome of not doing looking after your gear around camp wasn’t just getting sick and cold – it could mean getting kicked off the course.
“If the DS discovered you had wet gear in your burgen (bag) you would be in serious trouble, everything had to be dry, if not you’re gone,” he said.