SAS Australia: Merrick Watts reveals depression after radio exit

Penny Burfitt
·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·3-min read

Comedian Merrick Watts has swapped the punchlines for a stony-faced resilience while appearing on Channel 7’s smash show SAS Australia this year, and now the 46-year-old has opened up about the pain behind his seemingly serious persona.

A former radio host and comedian, Merrick shocked fans last night when he revealed that after work dried up a few years ago he crashed headfirst into depression and anxiety that left the funnyman’s confidence shaken.

SAS Australia Merrick Watts
Merrick Watts opened up about his struggle with depression on SAS Australia on Monday. Photo:

In an interrogation with SAS Directing Staff on Monday evening’s episode, Merrick admitted that after he stopped working in radio in 2017 he found himself losing his identity and his peace of mind.

When asked why he was on the show he said he was looking to ‘rebuild himself’.

“It just got to a point before this came along I lost some of my confidence,” he told the staff, who couldn’t believe it when their most stoic recruit admitted he was a comedian off the show.

Merrick Watts stand up comedy
The comedian says a dry spell of work left his confidence, and comedy, shaken. Photo: Instagram/merrickwatts

“And for a comedian, and for a performer, that’s a big part of what I do, and my identity.”

He went on to explain it was his departure from radio, after a rocky few years of ratings, and a subsequent dry spell of work that left him shaken.

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“So I worked for 20 years in radio non-stop then about three years ago I left,” he told the staff.

“I just started finding myself sleeping more, staying in late,” he continued. “I was lethargic, and tired, and unmotivated. And not committed to sh*t, because I didn’t feel 100%.”

Merrick Watts appears on SAS Australia after depression battle
Merrick is pushing himself to the limits on SAS Australia after a few years of anxiety and depression. Photo: Seven

Earlier in the episode, he had hinted that the departure from his former gig on air had left him unmoored.

“You do something like radio for twenty years non-stop, you get used to a certain way of doing things and then when you’re out of it for a little while it’s exciting and kind of cool and a release,” he said in an interview to camera during the gruelling episode.

“But then all of a sudden there was period when I just didn’t have a lot of work. There was a moment there where I just went ‘What’s next for me? Who am I? What am I going to do?’”

Merrick Radio gig
Merrick's 2Day FM show with Jules Lund, Sophie Monk and Mel B tanked in 2014. Photo: Austereo

Merrick left former employer Triple M in 2017 after returning to the station in 2015 following a rocky year with 2DayFM, where his breakfast program alongside Jules Lund & Sophie Monk with Mel B, intended to replace The Kyle and Jackie O Show, tanked.

The show was axed over poor ratings in October 2014.

Merrick says his dry work spell and despondence began to turn into something else.

“That started to slowly manifest into anxiety and depression,” he said in his camera interview. “It starts as a seed. These things don’t just become a tree. If you let it go too big it’s too hard to chop down, and that’s why I’m in this course.”

“Everybody knows me as a happy go lucky guy. Like ‘Oh yeah Mez is all right. He’s fine. He’s just a clown. He’s always bulletproof.’ To a large degree, that is who I am but I haven’t felt that way in a while and I want to feel that way again.

Merrick has been a standout on the brutal program which takes Aussie celebrities and put them through the SAS army selection process, with several big names already dropping out along the way.

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