Michelle Bridges and Commando out as revamped Biggest Loser to return in 2017

Network Ten is set to bring The Biggest Loser back to TV next year without two of its biggest names, trainers Michelle Bridges and Steve “Commando” Willis.

Shannan Ponton will return but Michelle Bridges and Steve 'Commando' Willis will not

Shannan Ponton will return but Michelle Bridges and Steve ‘Commando’ Willis will not

The weight loss reality show was rested this year after failing to make a dent on rivals in the ratings for its last two seasons, leading trainer Shannan Ponton to call on producers to return the show to its roots and focus more on the educational side if the show.

According to an article in The Sunday Telegraph Bridges – one of the most recognisable faces in fitness in the country – and Willis have “opted not to take part in the latest season”, thanking fans for the opportunity to be a part of previous shows.

Bridges and Willis joined the show alongside Ponton in its second series in 2007, but became tabloid fodder when the pair started a relationship in 2013 and last year had a baby together.

Ponton will return next year with new recruit, Sydney-based trainer Libby Babet, with the new series to be called The Biggest Loser: Transformed. Presenter Fiona Falkiner will also return, but the article does not mention fellow trainer Tiffiny Hall.


According to the article it will feature people who are more relatable to the audience, as opposed to the morbidly obese contestants in previous series, and will feature more of the educational side of the training.

In a December interview with Mumbrella Ponton called on producers EndemolShine to take the show “back to its roots” as they did with Ten’s biggest show Masterchef.

He said: “I am all for a challenge that tests contestants physically, that tests their mental aptitude around nutrition and food and tests their mental resilience and their fortitude, but sometimes this year I just thought wow, I am struggling to draw a parallel with how this this relates to health and fitness.

“You have to take your hat off [to the production team]. They have done an amazing job to nurture the show and in my wildest dreams I didn’t think we’d get anywhere near 10 years. But looking forward, my heart and head as a humble goat herder says we need to get back to content that shows the essence of weight loss.

“For me, and I know I speak for the other trainers, this is a serious weight loss show. It’s a serious business and should not be turned into a joke. Nearly 70 per cent of our population is obese or overweight and we need to get a handle on it.”

The Sunday Telegraph article suggests producers have listened to Ponton, stripping back to format with new trainer Babet telling the paper: “It’s about a more positive, holistic and exciting experience that is going to make people want to train and be healthy, rather than thinking they should.”the-biggest-loser

The next series will be the 11th of the show which was one of Ten’s best performers in its early years years, but failed to capture the audience’s attention in the same way in the last few series with producers focussing on a whole town, and then families.

When Ten left the format out of last year’s upfronts presentation it led to suggestions the show had quietly been axed.

However programming chief Beverly McGarvey denied any decision had been made saying it was not the network’s intention to “throw away brands and be frivolous with shows we’ve spent a lot of time and money building up over the years”.

A stronger showing towards the end of the series, which came after those upfronts, and a finale audience of  1.034m metro viewers last December, up on the previous year, appear to have helped save the show.

In a press release McGarvey said: “The Biggest Loser is an iconic brand on Australian television and an important and enduring show for Network Ten.

“The Biggest Loser: Transformed will reposition that iconic brand for contemporary Australia by focusing on people’s minds, bodies and souls. Our fresh approach will deliver the most remarkable, emotional and relatable transformations in the history of The Biggest Loser.

“We are very pleased to welcome back Fiona and Shannan, and to welcome Libby. They make a great team for a series that will be entertaining, aspirational, informative and – above all – transformative.’

Endemol Shine Australia CEO, Mark Fennessy, said: “We’re enormously proud to be producing a fully reimagined version of The Biggest Loser for our partners at Ten.

“Although transformed, the program will retain much of its traditional storytelling heritage whilst embracing greater health, fitness, self-empowerment and physical makeover aspects for today’s fast- paced world.”

It is unclear exactly when the show will return in 2017.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.