TOUGH guy Ant Middleton isn’t one to take an insult lying down.
Ant Middleton blames his SAS: Who Dares Wins replacement Rudy Reyes for ruining the C4 showCredit: Simon Jones
Ant Middleton joined the line-up of the Australian version of SAS
In an exclusive interview, Ant blamed the US Navy Seal for ruining the Channel 4 show he brought to the screen — and said he knew stars who turned it down because it had become too woke.
He blasted: “SAS is a lot softer now. I don’t watch it.
“A lot of celebrities ring me and tell me they’ve been asked to do the show but won’t, partly out of loyalty to me and partly because they say, ‘What would I get out of it? It’s gone soft’.
“I’m really shocked they can still call it SAS: Who Dares Wins because the chief instructor is an ex-marine. They are not tier-one Special Forces — they haven’t got that training or mindset that we have.
“My Twitter explodes on a Sunday night when the show is on. I get tweets saying, ‘Ant, when are you going to be back?’ It’s overwhelming.
“People think you can just put another person in front of the camera, but it’s really hard to deliver and come across as authentic. There’s only one Ant Middleton.”
His replacement Rudy, 50, Ant insists, had never crossed his mind until he heard him bad-mouthing him in an interview last month.
Ant, who was part of the original show line-up when it first aired in 2015, says: “You know what? I was actually looking forward to meeting Rudy, then he brought up all these past things, saying I was misogynistic.
“I thought, wow. You know, I’d never even spoken to the bloke or mentioned his name.
‘I’m hungrier now’
“I can accept some things people say about me but I am not misogynistic. My wife was like, ‘If anyone spent five minutes with you, they would know that’s absolutely not right, as you never treat anyone with disrespect.’
“I don’t know Rudy, so I don’t dislike him and I don’t like him, but I know to steer clear of him now because of that unfortunate article.”
Since Rudy’s interview, Ant has poked fun at him on social media — retweeting insults aimed at the hard man and joking that Rudy is an “uglier” version of him.
Ant adds: “I have a bit of fun with my Twitter followers about Rudy.
“I don’t take it too seriously. The public crease me up so I’m just having a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun.”
Aside from their verbal barbs, who does Ant think would win in a fight?
Ant, with a cheeky smile spreading across his face, says: “I think Rudy is 60-odd, right?
“Nearly 60? Well, he is 50-odd anyway, and listen, I respect my elders. I wouldn’t want to scrap, but I’m 42, so yeah, I’ve got a good ten years on him.”
It’s been 19 months since Ant learned he’d been fired by Channel 4 from the hit franchise following months of backstage tension between him and the production team.
With five kids, Ant Middleton has no plans for any moreCredit: INSTAGRAM/ANT MIDDLETON
Ant and Emilie, who wed in 2006, have four kids togetherCredit: Splash News
The catalyst came when Ant controversially branded Black Lives Matter protesters “scum”. He deleted the tweet, apologised and said he regretted making it.
But Ant insists he is far more content since leaving the show which he helped make a smash hit — and says his wife Emilie has noticed the difference.
The couple have four kids — Shyla, 15, Gabriel, 13, Priseis, seven and Bligh, six — while Ant also has son Oakley, 21, from a previous relationship.
He explains: “I’m so much happier, and it’s really strange because my wife has said the same. I’m not a negative person but I used to get into a negative headspace and took that back home with me after filming.
“Getting fired from the show has cleaned out my closet, and people know me for who I am now that the dust has settled. I’ve learned some really positive lessons that have made me stronger, better and more motivated. I’m hungrier now.”
And Ant’s schedule is busier than ever.
His popularity in Australia has gone through the roof after he joined the line-up of their version of SAS and he is preparing to host a new TV show Down Under called Million Dollar Island.
He also has his growing list of best-selling motivational books and branched into fiction last year. With more than a million copies sold so far, he’s set to add to the bumper sales with the publication of his second novel in November.
Thriller Red Mist follows his loosely autobiographical action hero Mallory, the ex-forces vigilante who readers were introduced to in last year’s best-seller Cold Justice.
Ant says proudly: “I’ve been an author for five years now and it’s not slowing down.
“Television comes and goes, but when I’m long gone, hopefully someone will grab my book off the shelf, wipe the dust off and read it.”
RETURN TO TELLY
But Ant has not ruled out a return to British telly and says he is also working on a move into films.
He explains: “It’s time for me to be back on UK TV and I feel an obligation to come back. There have been a couple of opportunities but they haven’t been right.
“I don’t just want to get my face back on TV for the sake of it — it’s got to be something punchy with a message behind it.
“I’m back-to-back in the diary until 2024 but there are a couple of TV projects in the pipeline that I could squeeze in filming next year.
“It will be bigger and better than SAS. I’m constantly moving up.
“There’s some very exciting conversations happening about a film too. It’s a leading man role in a British film.
“The sky’s the limit with acting, because I fully immerse myself in whatever I do.”
Ant knows full well he wouldn’t be able to commit to half of his busy workload if it wasn’t for the support of his loving wife, Emilie, who he married in 2006.
He says: “My wife is an amazing woman. She doesn’t like the limelight and we are polar opposites — that’s why we get on so well.
“I can go out and fully immerse myself in what I do, because she is back at home holding the fort, which is the job of all jobs, and not giving me any distractions.”
Despite his macho image, is Emilie the real boss of the relationship?
Without hesitation he replies: “No, I’m the boss.
“I don’t like to call it traditional, but you know, she loves being at home, looking after the children and seeing them grow.
“She gets frustrated when people just palm their children off to other people to look after.
“People are like, ‘Oh, you and your wife need to get with the times’, but we are a very capable, compatible family because of the traditions we have. Being a traditional family works for us.”
While some in today’s woke world would happily put alpha males on the scrap heap, Ant vows he’s far from becoming a relic.
Ant has not ruled out a return to British telly and says he is also working on a move into filmsCredit: Simon Jones
Ant pokes fun at Rudy on social media and retweets insults aimed at the hard manCredit: Channel 4/Pete Dadds
He says: “Politically correct fads come and go but the alpha male role is extremely important.
“The moment you eliminate that, the whole of society crumbles.
“Why do you think we are where we are today? Because of the back-breaking work alpha males put in.”
While he and Emilie are more than happy with their clearly-defined roles in the home, Ant admits there was one bump in the road in the early days of their relationship as his wife had to get used to all the female attention that came his way.
Ant reveals: “When that first started, she did have a hard time with it, to be fair. But that’s just a tiny part of what being successful encapsulates.
“The more successful you become, the bigger the pile of s**t you have to deal with. She trusts me and she’s certainly not reading my DMs — she hasn’t got the time.
“You think I’m busy? My wife has a whole household to deal with. There’s gymnastics, tennis, football — Her life is manic.”
With five kids, Ant has no plans for more — “I’ve had the snip, I’m done!” — but he admits children are the one thing that reveals a crack in his tough-guy exterior.
He says: “Children definitely bring out my softer side, hence why I’ve got so many.
“I see myself as a traditional man, as a protector of the innocence of children.
“When they’re not protected, or they’re vulnerable, I find that extremely hard. Kids are my kryptonite.”