Reality TV

Miguel Maestre tells TV WEEK about the Dancing With The Stars moment that rocked his confidence

“I almost crumbled!”
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Miguel Maestre is known to many as the flamboyant Spaniard with a lust for life. Nicknamed “The Crazy Bull”, the fast-talking chef and star of The Living Room juggles more than most can handle – even his colleagues marvel at his boundless enthusiasm.

“When we met, I remember thinking, ‘If this guy is bunging it on and it’s all an act, it’s going to be so exhausting,” his TLR co-host Dr Chris Brown, 40, tells TV WEEK. “But he’s one of my best mates; he lifts people up.”

But in recent weeks, his bravado took a hit. Miguel signed on to compete in the rebooted Dancing With The Stars, never anticipating the effect it would have on him.

Miguel and his DWTS partner Megan Wragg.

He was ready to show off some moves and have a bit of fun. Miguel, 39, even managed to lose nine kilos along the way. But his elimination from the show in just the second week sent him into a spiral of self-doubt.

He’d been waiting to hear whether his routine from the show’s opening night had been enough to escape elimination. But sadly, he became the first celebrity to exit the show.

When TV WEEK calls to chat to Miguel, the typically confident presenter is more subdued than we’re used to.

He admits he “second-guessed himself” after that fateful night.

“I almost crumbled on national TV, because it was such a shock,” he recalls. “In the initial moments, I really doubted myself. I wasn’t the positive person I usually am and I’ve never felt that before.”

Miguel says his elimination was “such a shock.”

While it might come as a surprise to hear that a fun contest could yield such despair, Miguel goes on to say he’s never worked so hard, both mentally and physically.

“I’m just not used to putting myself in the firing line too; I’m a very normal person,” he adds. “I’m not into sensationalism and I almost crumbled at the pressure. I worked the hardest I ever have and I’m sad it ended so quickly.”

Adding to his dismay was the fact his wife Sacha and children, Claudia, seven, and Morgan, four, were watching, as well as his TLR family Amanda Keller, Chris and Barry Du Bois.

“Amanda [who co-hosts DWTS with Grant Denyer] was crying on national TV,” he says. “I felt like I let my best friend and my family down.

“It’s just human to feel disappointed, but I didn’t want anyone to see me like that. I took it so seriously and gave it my all because it’s for a serious cause.”

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Miguel is a proud ambassador for R U OK? Day, which is immensely personal to him. Reflecting on his state of mind that night on DWTS, Miguel believes he gained insight into what some people regularly feel.

“In that moment, I didn’t care about anything else but that we really need to look after our minds,” he says. “So many people are taking their lives on a regular basis, so it’s important to check in with each other and simply ask, ‘Are you OK?’.

“It’s not about taking the punches either. It’s when you get up that you win. I try to shine in everything I do. Whether it’s peeling a potato or helping my kids in school, I give it everything I have.”

Miguel adds that having a loving support network on hand helped eased his disappointment on the night.

“The love I received from them and the Australian public was amazing,” he enthuses. “If three people [the judges] didn’t like it, that’s OK − not everyone will. I’ll just challenge the judges to a cooking contest!”

Miguel says the love from Australia was “amazing.”

For Miguel, this life lesson is just one of many he’s had to learn. Growing up in in humble circumstances in Murcia in Spain, he struggled to fulfil his dreams at first.

“My life hasn’t always been easy,” he says. “I had to learn faster than other people. I couldn’t speak English when I worked in various kitchens [around the world] and it was hard for me. But I’m pretty good at taking the punches.”

Then, Miguel met Sacha in Edinburgh in Scotland. She convinced him to move to Australia and they eventually married in 2010. From there, it was onwards and upwards.

“I came to Australia with nothing but a suitcase full of dreams,” he says.

“My beautiful wife brought me to this amazing country and we were young people, excited about life. I didn’t have much and I had to battle having such a strong accent, even when I started working in television. Sacha is my rock.”

Miguel and his wife Sacha.

And whether he’s serving long hours at a busy restaurant, co-hosting The Living Room or burning up the dance floor, Miguel insists “nothing has changed” in his nine years of happy marriage to Sacha.

“She has always supported me in whatever I do,” he says. “I spent 18 hours in the kitchen for nearly 15 years. Sacha is one of the reasons I am where I am today.”

With that in mind, Miguel tries not to dwell on the disappointment of his experience on Dancing With The Stars. Instead, he tries to look forward, particularly as his beloved The Living Room returns for an eighth season.

“I don’t take it [the show] for granted,” he says of the TV WEEK Logie Award-winning lifestyle show. “It’s a fantastic feeling to be part of it after all these years.

“We’re a real family and no-one can kick me out of the living room!” he jokes. “But we enjoy each other’s company, and right now it’s never been more important to be nice.

“The best ingredient in life is love, and the four of us do love each other – it’s a wonderful thing to share.”

Miguel with his The Living Room co-stars.

The Living Room airs Friday, 7.30pm, on 10.

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