As the new season of SAS: Who Dares Wins gets underway, many regular viewers are asking where one of the usual faces on the staff is no longer there.
Ant Middleton, who had previously held the role of chief instructor on the Channel 4 series, has been axed prior to the filming of the latest season set in a Jordan desert.
The news broke way back in March 2021, with Channel 4 citing a difference of “views and values”, and a spokesman adding Middleton would no longer be part of the production of any of its shows.
Middleton still featured as the no nonsense presenter of the gruelling and challenging show in a celebrity special which ran in September 2021, and was filmed prior to him being cut from the production.
So, who is Ant Middleton, what conduct resulted in his departure from Channel 4 and has he responded to the channel’s decision? This is what you need to know.
Who is Ant Middleton?
Ant Middleton is a 41-year old television star and former member of the British Armed Forces.
He served in various sections of the forces for over a decade, before becoming the Chief Instructor on military-style training TV show, SAS: Who Dares Wins.
Middleton is married to wife, Emilie, and the couple share four children. He also has a child from a previous relationship.
In 2013, Middleton was involved in a "nightclub bust-up" in Chelmsford, and was convicted of the unlawful wounding of one police officer and common assault upon a second. He served five months of a 14 month sentence.
In 2015 he debuted on Channel 4, and has since appeared in Channel 4 shows such as Mutiny, Escape, Extreme Everest with Ant Middleton, and the celebrity spin-off version of SAS: Who Dares Wins.
He has also published five books, including Sunday Times Bestsellers The Fear Bubble: Harness Fear and Live Without Limits, and First Man In: Leading from the Front.
When was he in the British Armed Forces?
Middleton joined the army aged 19 in 1998 - serving in Northern Ireland in 1999 and Macedonia in 2001.
In 2005, he joined the Royal Marines and won the King's Badge for best all round recruit. He went on to serve three times in Afghanistan, twice as a sniper and point man for the Special Boat Service.
After retiring from the military, he went on to be a security guard and worked as a security advisor for Western African governments before working with Channel 4.
What are his personal views which did not align with Channel 4’s?
Channel 4 have not commented on exactly which views Middleton shared which resulted in the end of their collaborations.
However, Middleton did share views in 2020 which Channel 4 were quick to distance itself from and there have since been reports that the channel received complaints about his conduct towards female members of production.
The Mirror revealed that there were also allegations from a number of women regarding Ant’s comments towards them on set which were investigated in late 2020.
Channel 4 reportedly concluded their investigation and told Middleton of their decision to axe him.
The channel told the Mirror: “We can’t comment on anonymous allegations, however, we take issues of welfare very seriously. We clearly set out our expectations of behaviour in our Supplier Code of Conduct. We are satisfied appropriate action has been taken.”
Producers of SAS: Who Dares Wins, said: “The welfare of those working on our productions is of paramount importance. We have robust procedures in place to allow members of staff to come forward and confidentially raise any concerns.”
However, a spokesperson for Middleton said the allegations were entirely false, stating: “Ant categorically denies your allegations. He is always disciplined and utterly professional. This is the first we have been informed of any such complaint which has never been mentioned previously to Ant or any of his team by Minnow or Channel 4.”
Middleton has also found himself defending his views on Black Lives Matter after he shared controversial views about protestors.
In June 2020, he posted a video of violence at anti-racism protests in London on Twitter, with the caption: “The extreme left against the extreme right. BLM and EDL are not welcome on our streets, absolute scum. What a great example you are to your future generation. Bravo."
He received immediate backlash from other Twitter users, before he posted a second Tweet, explaining what he meant.
He Tweeted a video, where he said: “I'd just like to clarify a tweet I'd put out at the weekend and deleted straight away once I'd re-read it and realised that it could cause offence.
“I put out a tweet or retweeted a video of the violence, the terror and chaos that was happening on the streets of London.
“Within that tweet I mentioned the BLM and EDL and the word 'scum'. At no point was I calling the BLM scum and comparing the two organisations. I want to make that really, really clear.
“The word scum was used to describe the people in the video that were violent, that were causing terror on the streets of London and setting a bad example for our future generations.”
The same month, Channel 4 set out a 'new and clear commitment' to being an anti-racist organisation and said Ant's tweet “in no way represent the views of Channel 4”.
This is not the only controversial view he has shared. He also commented on his social media about his approach to coronavirus - telling his followers he was not willing to lockdown, urging his 1.1m followers to “get out there”.
In an Instagram video, he said: “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.”
What did Channel 4 say about its work with Middleton?
On 1 March, Channel 4 released a comment in which it stated it would no longer work with Middleton.
A spokesperson for the channel 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.”
Has Middleton responded to Channel 4’s decision?
The former soldier has hit back at claims of his ‘personal conduct’ following the claims about being “inappropriate".
As well as denying he was ever inappropriate and adding that he had never been made aware of complaints, he also said he decided to leave the network due to “the woke patrol”.
He told ITV’s Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid: "Over the years, the PC patrol have kicked in, the woke patrol have kicked in to the point where we can't say anything, we can't be ourselves.
"We can't even act on the ground without health and safety jumping in going, 'Oh! You can't put them in at shoulder level in the water, you've got to put them at waist height' and it's been so controlled and so managed and so inauthentic now that I've decided to be completely walk away."
Channel 4 responded to these claims, the network said: "Our decision not to renew Ant Middleton's contract and not to work with him again was solely based on his personal conduct off camera and is not related to his on-screen persona as a DS. SAS: Who Dares Wins will continue to be as tough as it's ever been."
Upon hearing he had been axed on 1 March, Middleton initially responded by stating he has a lot of other projects and feels the time is right to depart from SAS: Who Dares Wins.
In a post on Instagram, he said: “After five years on the show it just felt like I had achieved everything I could with the format.
“There’s so many other formats that I am working on now that feel more suited to who I am today.
“It’s been a brilliant experience being on that show but I'm honestly happy to let some new blood come in and put their own stamp on it.”
He then took to Twitter, where he added: “Big respect to my fellow DS – it’s been a journey I’ll never forget.
“Thanks to everyone that took part and made the show what it is. Really excited about the future and what’s coming this year.”