Reality TV

EXCLUSIVE: Meet SAS Australia’s newest directing staff, Prince Harry’s friend and a former spy

''My wife rang me to say we’d been invited to Harry and Meghan’s wedding.''
Loading the player...

Ant Middleton may be the chief instructor on SAS Australia, but to new directional staff member Dean Stott, he’s like a little brother.

“Ant and I served together in Afghanistan,” Dean, 44, tells TV WEEK. “He joined the Special Boat Service two years after me.”

The pair have stayed in touch, and when the opportunity arose to recruit another member of the Directing Staff, Ant knew exactly who to call.

In 2011, Dean was at the pinnacle of his career when a parachute accident saw his time in uniform come to a grinding halt.

Dean Stott and Clint Emerson will join SAS Australia season three, which airs on February 21.

(Image: Seven)

“I was going through an identity crisis,” Dean explains. “I was struggling to come to terms with the fact I’d have to change my career path.

“And to compound that pressure, my wife was eight months pregnant. My focus was, ‘How will I support my family?'”

Tapping his military background, Dean stepped into the private security sector, becoming an expert at dealing with situations such as kidnappings and coups.

After three years establishing himself in the field, he took a year off to spend time with his wife Alana and their two young kids. But Dean knew he needed a challenge to keep him going.

“I decided to cycle the world’s longest road [the 14,000km Pan American Highway], from Southern Argentina to Alaska, to give me something to aim for and give back,” he shares.

Dean attended Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle.

(Image: Supplied)

At first, his goal was to aim for the world record, completing the ride in 117 days to raise money for Prince Harry’s mental health campaign Heads Together.

“My wife rang me to say we’d been invited to Harry and Meghan’s wedding [in 2018],” Dean says. “It really changed the timeline for me to be finished.”

Dean skipped his rest days to finish in 99 days, 12 hours and 56 minutes, knocking the then world record out of the park. He made it to the wedding and raised more than $948,000 for charity too.

“For me, it always comes back to that military mindset,” he says. “I had a plan for success and had to react to a situation that changed on the ground.”

Joining Dean is former Navy SEAL Clint Emerson, who’s been asked to appear on TV before.

Loading the player...

After being contacted via his website, he didn’t really believe anything would happen – until the American found himself standing in front of the recruits on SAS Australia.

“It was overwhelmingly cool,” Clint, 42, tells TV WEEK. “I was 100 per cent surprised at how well executed everything was.

“It’s not some fake TV thing – it’s a course first and a TV show second.”

When Clint joined the US Navy as a young man, he told himself that he’d give his country 20 years of active service.

He worked his way up to the most elite squadrons, participating in top secret intelligence missions to become the only SEAL ever inducted into the International Spy Museum.

“I knew when I hit that point, I would retire and still have time to do other things – especially be a dad,” he says.

“I missed the first 10 years of my daughter’s life and didn’t want to miss any more of it.”

Dean and Clint are joined by returning DS Ollie Ollerton and Ant Middleton.

(Image: Seven)

Despite putting a five-year plan in place for his future, the new reality was hard to process.

“The transition is difficult for everyone, and for me, it’s ongoing,” he reflects. “When you’re part of these bigger-than-life missions and then get out, you go from hero to zero.

“One day you’re part of the most elite group of people on the planet, and then – within 24 hours of retiring – you’re nobody.”

The former spy used his unique set of skills to write non-fiction books, including 2009’s Escape The Wolf, about mitigating risk.

“I got a call from The Wall Street Journal,” he says. “Their global security director asked me to teach everything in the book to 700 of their journalists all over the globe.

“I transitioned from a book into a company and started providing crisis-management services.”

Related stories