SAS: Who Dares Wins has unveiled the newest member of their tenacious team ahead of the return of the civilian series on Sunday.
Melvyn Downes, 55, who led operational tours in Iraq and Northern Ireland and served in the armed forces for more than two decades, will appear alongside Ant Middleton on the new series that was filmed before the latter was dropped from the show.
In March, Ant was dropped by Channel 4 bosses for his “personal conduct,” with the soldier vehemently denying that he was deterred for making “inappropriate” comments against female staff.
Big return: SAS: Who Dares Wins unveiled the newest member of their tenacious team ahead of the return of the civilian series on Sunday
Melvyn is the first mixed race member of the SAS team, recruited to replace Ollie Ollerton who left the show last year.
He will appear on the show alongside Ant, Jason Fox and Mark ‘Billy’ Billingham, which will see a new group of civilians at work this weekend when it hits screens.
After serving in the armed forces for over 20 years, Melvyn has also spent 12 years in the SAS and is now a Scout Leader, and he insisted that his position on the show would not only drive Channel 4’s ‘diversity drive’.
New Face: Melvyn Downes, 55, who led operational voyages in Iraq and Northern Ireland and served in the armed forces for more than two decades, will appear in the new series
He told The sun: ‘I know people are going to say it’s all about race, but I don’t see it that way.
‘To be part of this program you have to be able to do the job, that’s number one.
“Having spent 24 years in the British Army, being promoted to Warrant Officer and leading numerous SAS operations, I think I have the necessary experience to support this first of all.”
Melvyn, the father of three, grew up on a municipal estate in Stoke and lived in Dubai for the past decade working for both the British Scouting Overseas and company security.
The new series will also take a surprising turn with one of the directors going undercover among the 21 participating recruits.
Coming soon: The civilian series was filmed before Ant (pictured) was dropped by Channel 4 bosses for his ‘personal behavior’
This civilian series and its upcoming celebrity version were both shot last year before Ant, who is now in Australia to film the show’s version in that country, was dropped from the show by Channel 4 bosses.
A Channel 4 spokesperson told MailOnline at the time: ‘Ant Middleton will not participate in future series of SAS: Who Dares Wins.
“After a number of conversations that Channel 4 and Minnow Films have had with him in relation to his personal behavior, it has become clear that our views and values are not aligned and that we will no longer work with him.”
Ant then “wholeheartedly” denied allegations he “joked about having sex with a female contestant,” after previously responding to allegations that he made inappropriate comments against female staff.
A spokesperson for Ant told MailOnline at the time: ‘Ant has worked on television sets around the world for years and has never been accused by anyone of speaking inappropriately.
He has only been made aware of these allegations through the media, which he wholeheartedly and emphatically rejects.
“If someone felt he had said something verbally offensive, we would have expected a formal review process, but no such discussion has ever taken place through any of the networks he works for or through agencies like Bectu.”
Ditched: A Channel 4 spokesperson told MailOnline at the time: “It has become clear that our views and values are not aligned and we will no longer be working with him.”
It came after a report from The sun that Ant told a participant through his microphone during filming that he wanted to have sex with her.
A source claimed his comment was a joke, but still led a member of the show’s production team to sue, saying, “ I’m going to fuck you next. ”
A Channel 4 representative told the publication that measures have been taken so that any complaints from staff can be treated confidentially.
Ant also denied claims of further conduct after it was reported that four women accused him of making “ obscene and suggestive comments ” on set.
The women approached the media union Bectu, who told them The mirror they plan to meet up with Channel 4 after Ant dismisses his behavior as ‘military banter’ during an interview on Good Morning Britain.
It has also been reported that Ant threatened to leave SAS: Who Dares Wins multiple times and “ acted like a Hollywood star on set ” before eventually being dropped.
Show: It comes amid claims that Ant plans to ‘do a Jeremy Clarkson’ (pictured in 2019) after leaving the show by returning to TV on a streaming service
A source said The sunAnt loved being the main attraction and seemed to think the show needed him more than it needed – and he would on set. He has threatened to quit several times.
‘It felt like some sort of party act, like he was untouchable. He did the same again between filming the citizen and celebrity versions, which are filmed back-to-back. But no one believed his dislike. No one is bigger than the show. ‘
After his addition, Ant appeared to be swooping on Channel 4 while sharing a photo of himself with Australian football star Sabrina Frederick, writing on Instagram, ‘Don’t hire a lion if you want a kitten!’
Ant claims he was pulled from the show for having “ headlines ” with the team after saying it had become “ more of a reality show. ”
He also claimed that Channel 4’s handling of his exit from the show was ‘reckless and desperate’.
The former soldier said he was preparing to walk away from the show because the ‘PC Patrol’ had taken over and it was no longer authentic.
Hit back: Ant recently ‘wholeheartedly’ denied allegations that he ‘joked about sex with a female contestant’ on SAS: Who Dares Wins
In April, it was then alleged that Ant is planning to ‘do a Jeremy Clarkson’ after leaving SAS: Who Dares Wins.
According to The Sunday People, Ant hopes to return to television through a streaming service and plans to approach companies with a web TV format.
A source said: ‘Ant feels there is the opportunity to mimic what Clarkson did. He thinks there is an audience for yet another military action hero style show where he can be his authentic self.
Ant was also criticized last year for some of his reports of the coronavirus pandemic, saying he would continue his life in March as usual during the outbreak.
He was reportedly forced to give up his role as Chief Cadet of the Royal Navy after just nine months, following his controversial ‘scum’ tweet about Black Lives Matter protesters.
The TV tough guy, who took the role in November, is said to have left his bosses furious after posting the since-deleted tweet amid protests over racial injustice following George Floyd’s death in the US.
Hit Back: The adventurer insisted he has been accused of speaking improperly ‘at no time’ after previously denying allegations he made inappropriate comments against female staff
On June 14, Ant tweeted: ‘The extreme left against the extreme right. When did two wrongs get right? It was only a matter of time. BLM and EDL are not welcome on our streets, absolute trash. What a great example you are for your future generation. Bravo.’
The tweet was in response to a video claiming to be of “ BLM / Antifa agitator hunting lonely veterans and soccer guys in packs. ”
Ant then apologized and released a video message, saying, “ In that tweet, I mentioned the BLM and EDL and the word ‘scum’. At no point did I call the BLM scum and compare the two organizations. I want to make that very, very clear.
“The word scum was used to describe the people in the video who were violent, who caused terror in the streets of London and set a bad example for our future generations.”
Controversy: It came in response to a report that Ant told a contestant that he wanted to have sex with her while filming, causing a production member to complain to bosses