In a shocking Celebrity SAS Who Dares Wins moment, filled with profanity and passion, former boxing world champion Tony Bellew broke rank by shouting back at Chief Instructor Ant Middleton.
The self-confessed maniac saw red and kicked off when the Directing Staff (DS) went too far with their demands during a beasting challenge but, it was having to face his fear of heights that forced Tony to speak about the death of his brother-in-law.
His wife's brother was found dead below a balcony while on holiday in Mexico, so every time Tony looks down from a height, he thinks of him. Speaking to TV presenter Helen and moving her to tears, he said:
“I’m seriously at my wits ends. The heights [challenges] kill me really bad."
This physical and psychological challenge, set by Ant and his DS of former Special Forces operatives Foxy, Billy, Ollie and Jay, was designed to reveal the weakest recruits. The punishing tasks included a beach beasting and surf immersion in near-freezing water plus a terrifying crawl along a single rope 60 metres above the ground in ferocious wind and rain.
Emotions ran high as their fears and phobias were relentlessly exposed by the DS, leaving former front runner, Strictly Come Dancing star Brendan Cole, singled out and at risk of being culled.
Finally, the recruits faced a gruelling race across mountainous terrain in the Scottish Inner Hebrides which saw them pushed to their limits as they were forced to carry heavy equipment, and then each other, in a simulated casualty evacuation.
The search to find the weakest link began high in the air.
In the first challenge, the recruits had to complete a breath-taking gorge crossing across one rope, suspended 60 metres above a powerful river.
While crossing the gorge, at the halfway point, the recruits had to let go of one of the ropes, attempt to get back into position and continue to the other side.
This challenge was designed to give the DS an insight into which recruits have enough grit to keep going or whether they give up when things get a bit tough or uncomfortable.
DS Ollie Ollerton explains that Special Forces operators always take the least obvious route to their target which can often involve climbing across or down high heights. As is customary on Celebrity SAS Who Dares Wins, the DS show the recruits how it's done. Ollie takes the baton and completes it first. He said:
“Can they push their emotional state and their feelings to one side and follow the process, follow the detail.
“If you were in a war situation you’d have no option but to go over that rope.”
First up to take on the challenge was Brendan Cole but, after a confident start, the ballroom dancer fails when he can’t get back on the rope after falling. The DS are frustrated when he tries to explain what happened. They aren't interested in excuses.
Lauren Steadman was next and showed real determination to succeed. The British Paralympic athlete was born with one arm and was always encouraged to do anything she wanted to. Talking about her childhood, the 27-year-old spoke about why she has always given things a go, even when perhaps society might assume she wouldn't. She said:
"My Mum said it was very easy when I was a baby that she would want to come over and help me.
"But, she said that 'I knew that if I did that for you, you'd get used to me doing things for you' so she said she'd leave me until the last moment when I'd exhausted all opportunities and methods of how to do things."
Eventually, Lauren failed the challenge but Ant was pleased with her effort because she had committed to it 100%.
Former Royal Marine and Special Forces operator DS Jason 'Foxy' Fox admits that his weakness is heights. He said:
“I’m scared of heights and when I get up on high features I can feel fear.
“You either let it freak you out or allow it to switch you on”
Last to take on the challenge was Tony, who has admitted in previous episodes that he is scared of heights. After gathering enough courage to get on the rope, he tentatively pulls himself along. With words of encouragement from the DS, Tony manages to put the task in hand ahead of his fears for a while but eventually falls and is incredibly emotional. Once back at base, Tony explains to Helen why he found that challenge so difficult. He said:
“I’m seriously at my wits ends. The heights kill me really bad.
“My missus’ brother, Ashley his name was, went to Mexico and never came home.
"He was found at the bottom of a balcony, just dead.
“Every time I look down from a height, I just think about him, that’s all. He was a nice kid, a really nice boy.
“I honestly believe it’s only a matter of time before I implode.”
After the recruits failed the river crossing challenge, the DS put them through a series of beastings to weed out the weak.
The first test involved the recruits carrying each other for half a kilometre. Brendan Cole was asked to carry the heaviest recruit, Tony Bellew and dropped him several times.
Beach beastings are some of the toughest. Billy explains that showing off physical prowess on a beach is incredibly difficult because walking on sand "feels like you’re dragging cement behind you.” He said:
“If there’s any physical weakness on a beach beasting, it will show.”
Brendan and Tony finally finish the challenge three minutes behind the others but, the end of this beasting is nowhere near in sight.
The recruits now have to battle it out in freezing and relentless waves. The recruits take on ‘Surf Immersion’, a notorious military water beasting that simulates water torture.
Linked arm in arm, the recruits must fall back into freezing cold seawater and stay afloat for as long as possible. If one recruit fails, they all fail.
Shaking due to the extreme cold weather, the teams collapse backwards into the powerful surf and have to stay immersed in turbulent waves for 25 minutes. Foxy explains that surf immersion has nothing to do with showing off physical fitness. He said:
"It's about being in a really uncomfortable situation, your minds got to take you somewhere else."
The recruits then have to commando crawl out of the freezing water back onto wet sand. Not happy with Brendan's technique, Ant makes the ballroom dancer start again but still calls him out as being the weakest link.
This public humiliation knocks Brendan’s confidence. Back at base, he opens up to his fellow recruits saying:
"The aim of the game is to do well ... and you want them to go, 'f***ing respect, well done, you did what it took'
"And if you don't get that, it kind of smashes you up."
The DS call Brendan in for questioning where he attempts to explain why he couldn’t carry Tony and complete the challenge. Ant and Billy knock him down by saying the former Strictly Come Dancing star “didn’t have the balls” and that he didn’t even try to do his best. Ant said:
“You were a broken man before you even go to the DS.”
Brendan defends himself by saying he’s been training for cold water challenges since agreeing to take part in the show and that he couldn't catch his breath for long enough to carry Tony. Billy said he was disappointed because he thought Brendan was a front runner.
After a while, Ant shouts at Brendan to "shut the f*** up" as he’s bored of his whining excuses and orders him to leave the room and go back to his recruits.
The next challenge sees the DS splitting the recruits into two groups, Team Alpha and Bravo. They choose Brendan and reality star Joey Essex as team leaders in order to prove themselves as strong leaders.
On Team Alpha are Brendan, Lauren and Tony and Joey, Drum N' Bass band Rudimental’s DJ Locksmith, Helen make up Team Bravo. As the odd one out, Nikki who will swap teams halfway through the task.
Each team are tasked with carrying six pieces of equipment of different sizes and weight to a rendezvous (RV) point and Team Bravo take an early lead. Leader Joey isn't surprised by his team's success. He has confidence in his ability to get the job done. He said:
“People just see me on TV ... people turn their nose up but they don’t know hw hard I work.
“I’m a grafter and I’m good at what I do”
Team Bravo deliver the kit in 19 minutes while Team Alpha fall 200 metres behind and spread themselves out too much. Nikki joins Team Alpha to help them carry the kit to the RV point.
The final stage involves racing to reach an extraction point before the transport departs. To add pressure, each team must carry a ‘casualty’ over their shoulder in a fireman’s lift style.
Disappointed in his lack of leadership, the DS strip Brendan of his role and give it to Nikki. They then demand that Lauren and Nikki carry Tony, who weighs more than 100 kilgrams, for the next stage of the task.
Tony reacts immediately to this request with outrage and fury.
Staggering from exhaustion he exclaims, “that’s enough, you can’t do this.”
Tony shouts “that’s an impossible thing, STAFF” and Ant replies with “nothing is impossible”.
Tony reveals that he is a maniac and it is “only a matter of time until it erupts.”
Ant then tasks Tony with carrying Brendan and the former professional boxer's response is a tirade of abuse filled with disgust and vitriol. He said:
“I’ll show you what a casualty looks like, you f***ing c***, f***ing keep up with me.”
With just a minute to get to the vehicle before the transport leaves, Team Bravo make it just in time. However, Team Alba are left by the side of the road as they are too late.
In the first episode of the Channel 4 series, Tony admitted to missing “punching people in the face” and that he has an aggressive side that he thinks is under control. Somehow, in this episode, Tony manages to control his aggression when Ant shouts at him for making his team fail the task.
Tony shows genuine compassion for his team when he admits he thinks Team Alpha lost because of how heavy he is. He admits he isn’t bothered by the physical pain from the challenges but that the DS are breaking him mentally when they ask his teammates to endure pain because of him.
On the parade square, the DS threaten to end the recruits experience with Ant saying:
“Do not think you are safe, do not treat us like f***ing mugs”
After witnessing his lack of grit during the beach challenge, the DS decide it's time for Brendan leave and warn Tony he will not get a second chance. Brendan said:
“If you don’t have some form of self-doubt at some point, you’re not going to grow very much
“I’ve never considered myself to better than anybody else but I do consider myself to be the best that I can be.”
Video: Channel 4
The DS call Tony in for questioning after aggressively fronting up to Ant. They are worried about his inability to control his anger. As soon as he enters the room and sits down Tony apologises. Ant reminds Tony he needs to try and control his anger. He said:
“I can see beyond that f***ing time bomb and I f***ing like what I see beyond it, we all do”
Tony says he can’t deal with his past. He tells the DS abut his wife’s brother and his death. He says he can deal with it but she can’t. After Tony admits he can’t talk to his wife about it Foxy says:
“The past is f***ing horrible but in the grand scheme of things, eventually, you got to take those steps forward because the past isn’t changing.
“It’s about using that as a building block to move forward.
“A sh*t building block it is but at some point it’s got to get positive”
Both Ant and Foxy respond warmly and support Tony by reassuring him that by the end of the series he will be in a good place emotionally. The former professional boxer joined Celebrity SAS Who Dares Wins so that he might be able to get rid of some of his demons. He said:
“Since my brother in law passed away, not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.
“It breaks my heart, literally.
“I’m dying to find out what true happiness is.
“Whichever way that will come, I don’t know but I’m trying my best to find it.”
Next week on Celebrity SAS Who Dares Wins the recruits discover who is the most emotionally resilient. How long can they last when under extreme physical duress?
Monday | 9pm | Channel 4