Reality TV

Is SAS Australia really “as fake as MAFS”? Deep dive into how real the military show actually is

According to a real ex-SAS officer, it's pretty spot-on.
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For as long as there has been reality TV, there have been questions about how real these shows actually are and SAS Australia is no different.

With two seasons of the already under the show’s belt and a third on the way, contestants have been confronted with some very real-looking challenges.

Contestants have spoken out after SAS on whether the show is real or fake.

(Image: Channel Seven)

The military-style show has had stars like Jana Pittman, Mark Philippoussis and Sam Burgess jump out of planes and undergo harrowing interrogations.

Meanwhile, recruits like Anna Heinrich and Locky Gilbert were on fire – literally.

So how much of what we see on the gruelling show is real, and what is just for the cameras?

According to an anonymous ex-SAS officer, the recruitment course the celebrities are put through looks a lot like the real thing.

“It’s a fairly decent adaptation of the selection process, but the key point of difference is that while the TV show is filmed over two weeks, the real SAS selection takes six months,” ‘Officer X’ told Mamamia in 2021.

But he said “all that emotional s–t” we see from the contestants is just for the cameras, and the bare-bones base camp the celebrities call home is “pretty luxurious” compared to real SAS recruitment.

The ‘interrogations’ are also “well off” base, Officer X revealing that the real thing is much more brutal and will “basically break you”.

But that doesn’t really make for weeknight reality TV viewing, now does it?

Following AFL star Jason Akermanis’ departure from the 2023 season, he called out the show for being fake while speaking on 2Day FM’s Hughesy, Ed & Erin.

“They lie all the time. What they don’t show you is when they record something, they put it to the test audience,” he said.

In the first episode, contestants were ‘buried alive’ in a coffin for 45 minutes – but Jason claimed it was only 15 minutes.

“They lie all the time.”

(Image: Seven)

As for what else the show gets right, Officer X said the regular yelling and punishments are pretty spot on, especially when someone has an attitude problem.

“You are constantly reminded that this is a ‘team’ thing. You are part of a team, you support the team, you protect the team.”

An anonymous recruit from last season told the Daily Mail that there were plenty of “fake” moments in the show, including scripted interactions and clever editing to make certain scenes more dramatic.

They also claimed that the winner is chosen in advance, telling the outlet: “We knew from day one, when we lined up for the promotional photos, who’d be there at the end.

An insider claimed Sam Burgess was chosen as season two’s winner ahead of time.

(Image: Channel Seven)

“This guy is front, row and centre in every group photo and was portrayed in glowing terms throughout the entire season.”

They said that the show is more about “redeeming” the celebrity stars than actually showing what SAS training courses are really like.

“Everyone loves a story of redemption. Especially producers who are more interested in ratings than the integrity of the SAS course and the viewing public,” they said.

“This show is a charade. It’s no different to Married At First Sight.”

It’s pretty damning commentary coming from a recruit themselves, but other contestants have insisted the show is a lot more real than even they expected going in.

After filming season one, Ali Oetjen confirmed there was no hot water, no showers and no flushing toilets at the base camp and stars were forced to go without most creature comforts.

The show is led by Ant Middleton, an ex-army recruit and tough-as-boots directing staffer (DS).

(Image: Channel Seven)

“The WORST thing was the cold … Freezing temperatures ALL the time with no respite, being wet with the chill winds made it so much worse,” she said.

And the many bumps and bruises – and more serious injuries – we see on the show are very real indeed.

“The physical pain like cuts on my throat, hands all cut up, blistered feet, black and purple bruises which covered my legs and arms weren’t the worst thing,” Ali said.

Meanwhile Pete Murray, from season two, had to medically withdraw from the show when a brutal boxing bout saw him dislocate his elbow.

WATCH: Pete Murray dislocates his elbow on SAS Australia. Story contines after video.

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Co-contestant Koby Abberton also had to quit the course after an old back injury flared up and recently claimed he has been in “constant pain” ever since.

“I did have a previous back injury from five years ago but this is a new injury and it wouldn’t have happened if not for the show,” he told The Sunday Telegraph this year.

“The network has tried to help but it’s in the hands of the insurance company and it’s really hard.”

While there’s no denying that some parts of the show have definitely been edited or changed up to make for better TV viewing, it sounds like SAS Australia is a lot more real than viewers may think!

Want all the details on the latest season of SAS: Australia? Check out these stories:

A former Bachelor, a convicted drug dealer and a model: The cast for the third season of SAS Australia is revealed

Who is SAS Australia’s ruthless leader Ant Middleton behind his tough TV personality? All the inside details

SAS Australia star Anna Heinrich’s baby girl Elle has stolen our hearts in these stunning family photos

Inside Locky Gilbert and Irena Srbinovska’s sweet relationship while she cheers him on at home

Barry Hall faces brutal challenges on SAS Australia, but back home it’s nothing but love

Before he was an SAS Australia contender, Orpheus Pledger was our favourite Home And Away hunk

How Wayne Carey’s AFL career exploded after the SAS Australia star was caught having an affair with his teammate’s wife

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