GOLD Logie winning actor Craig McLachlan believes his horrific court experiences will hold him in good stead mentally when he comes face-to-face with ex-special forces soldiers in the Middle East this week.
McLachlan flew out of Sydney this week for his first television gig in five years – this time not as an actor but as a recruit for the 2023 season of the Seven Network’s SAS Australia.
The former Neighbours star had a race against the clock to make the cut as he was still recovering from major abdominal surgery.
Contractual obligations mean he is unable to discuss his new gig, however his longtime partner, conductor Vanessa Scammell said he almost didn’t make it.
“It was touch and go,” Ms Scammell said. “Craig’s race against the clock to put on weight, gain strength and pass his fitness test after the emergency abdominal surgery late last year was far from being a fait accompli.
“He was so methodical and careful with his training post surgery. The biggest hurdles for him were to be able to complete the pre course requirements.
“They had to be pushed back to really late in the day because he simply wasn’t able to do them whilst healing.”
McLachlan completed the SAS barrier test and was given medical clearance only days before he left Australia.
“He just couldn’t be certain that he would make it. As he has said to me all along. ‘It’s all or nothing’,” Ms Scammell said.
And for McLachlan this doesn’t just mean just the physical aspect of the show’s requirements.
“The mental strength that is required to get through this course is perhaps even more extreme than the physical at times,” she said.
“Sleep deprivation, interrogation and the extraordinarily high expectations of the drill sergeants are as brutally demanding as the physical challenges.
“Craig is no stranger to unworldly mental strain and stress. He believes that nothing could be as horrific as having survived the past five years of legal battles and court processes he has had to endure and that the mental strength and fortitude will hold him in good stead.”
McLachlan, who played the “sweet transvestite” Dr Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show, was found not guilty in December 2020 of seven counts of indecent assault and six counts of common law assault.
“There is no way to adequately describe how profoundly difficult it was to survive those days calmly without emotion, maintaining dignity and respectfully trusting the process,” Ms Scammell said.
McLachlan last appeared on television in the record breaking hit drama Series The Dr Blake Mysteries.
Ms Scammell said the diehard Dr Blake fans and his supporters had stood by him while the industry had been at times less forgiving.
“It seems that not even a full acquittal in a criminal court is enough,” she said.