It seems like once you've completed the emotional marathon that is The Bachelor, the challenges just have to get tougher.
Almost a year after his love quest on the Channel Ten show, Tim Robards has been signed as an ambassador for the Spartan Race, a global obstacle race series.
If "obstacle racing" makes you think of plastic hoops and bendy tunnels, think again. Spartan is a high-speed ordeal that "returns to our ancient warrior roots", requiring participants to crawl under barbed wire, leap through flames and tackle burly gladiators over a course designed to "take racers to the brink". You and I might call it torture, but for Robards and his fellow Spartan ambassador, Commando Steve Willis, it's a pleasant frolic.
Revealing the new partnership to S, Robards was gleeful about the trauma to come.
"You clamber through mud! Every grown man dreams of doing this!"
He and Willis will each head a team to compete in the next Spartan Race over seven kilometres in Picton on October 11.
"It's daunting," Robards says. "I guess I'm about to find out how serious Steve really is."
And there's another obstacle: Robards has torn a knee ligament during his gym training.
"It came almost right off the bone with a bang," he says. "I had to sit down and breathe. I was in a bit of shock."
Rest was recommended but it's not really in the Robards vocabulary.
"I'm all right if I run in a straight line," he insists.
He's also busy working on another way to rival Commando Steve: his own fitness programme called The Robards Method.
"It's body weight and callisthenics-based," he says. "It's exercise you can do without a gym, and it's a progressive programme that keeps people growing."
However, nothing, says Robards, can ever rival The Bachelor as a gruelling challenge.
"Spartan will be a walk in the park compared with that," he says.
Blake Garvey, the current "Bachelor", agrees. His TV race is only partly run, and at times, the finish line looks a long way off.
Chatting to S in a filming break, Garvey was still reeling from the impact of his spontaneous smooch with Jessica on a group date at Luna Park. The carousel snuggle sent the rest of the girls incendiary.
"Maybe I shouldn't have," he says. "I just got comfortable and I was in the moment. It happened spontaneously and then I realised how it could have affected the other girls."
Garvey is tired, but has his eyes on the prize.
"I'm looking forward to just dating one girl," he confesses. "I didn't realise how precious those alone moments with someone would be."
Which someone? Of course, he's not telling. But if the choice isn't quite agonising enough, he can always join Robards out there on the Spartan course when it's all over.
Regatta on the bay
Summer in Sydney just keeps looking tastier, with more new restaurants and bars hitting our radar daily. This week's exciting news is that the former Sailor's Club at Rose Bay, now owned by Barge8, the team behind Bondi's PaperPlanes and Kings Cross's LL Wine and Dine, will reopen as Regatta Dining. Doors should be open at the mod-Aus wharf eatery at the end of September, and it will boast a fit-out by Luchetti Krelle based around the changing tides. Barge8, alias brothers Tim, Chris and Matthew Barge, have already opened Swimmer's Cafe down below at the end of the same wharf.
Gleeson a Les Mis tragic to the end
Warning: do not take on Simon Gleeson in a Les Miserables geek-off. He will win.
The actor playing Jean Valjean in the Les Mis production that's heading to Sydney's Capitol Theatre in March is a diehard.
Chatting while in Sydney last week to promote the show's pre-sales, NSW-born Gleeson confessed to a lifelong fascination culminating in this dream role. "I'll never forget the first time I saw it, in Melbourne, aged 12," he says. "I was sitting in the dress circle, leaning over the balcony and I didn't look away once. It captured me from that moment. I already knew all the words to all the songs. I wanted to be in it."
Serious fans like me know weird facts, such as Princess Di once wore out her Les Mis tape from over-playing. But Gleeson's so hardcore he did that, too. "It just melted into the car dashboard," He says.
And, like all Les Mis tragics, he gravitates to fellow worshippers. "Some of them are unlikely," he says. "I have a good friend, Andrew Schauble, who was a Collingwood AFL player and I remember after he played his first big game against Essendon, he told me: 'I couldn't get Master of the House from Les Mis out of my head!'"
It's comforting for any Les Mis obsessive to know the musical's key character is in such reverent hands. "I envy people seeing it for the first time," Gleeson says. "It's such a big deal; you can't ever repeat that." And inside his critically acclaimed nightly performances there's still that 12-year-old boy who knows all the words to all the songs.
"When you're offered something you've always dreamed of, you have to let that excited inner child enjoy the ride," he says.
For tickets, see lesmis.com.au.
Sol3 Mio score beyond support
When opera singer Pene Pati's voice soars in a heartstopping rendition of classic aria Nessun Dorma, he feels proud.
Plenty of reasons why: first, the classically trained Bel Canto Prize winner carries the tune pretty well. Second, he and his brother Amitai Pati and cousin Moses Mackay, alias Kiwi opera trio Sol3 Mio, cracked the ARIA top 10 with their debut album earlier this year. And third, these boys are audience catnip – they sold out a New Zealand tour and were even voted prettier than One Direction with an 85 per cent majority in a recent Fairfax Media poll. In short, Sol3 Mio are on fire.
Last week, after he performed at the Joan Sutherland Bel Canto Gala dinner in Sydney, Pati told S he's most proud of all that three young Samoan-born lads, built for rugby but hellbent on song, disproved a horde of skeptics who believed they'd never achieve anything in the music world.
"We were a poor immigrant family from Samoa, and sport was considered our only option at school. Every time I said I wanted to be a singer, everyone would say: 'you'll get nowhere'," says Pati. "But instead of curling up in a ball, we proved those people wrong. I'd love to see them now."
One true believer was the Patis' father, Pene snr. He nurtured the boys' talent, encouraging them to perform at the rest home where he worked.
As the trio prepare for their first Australian tour, Pati says he still has "surreal" moments on stage, especially during the powerful Nessun Dorma.
"I stare at my brother as we sing it, and I'm overwhelmed with emotion and pride. I think: 'we beat the odds'," he says.
Sol3 Mio will perform in Sydney on Wednesday, October 22 at The Star Event Centre.
From Wonderland to magazine glory
Just in case there aren't enough bachelors on the opposite page, here's another – and he's the freshest one we could find.
Glenn McMillan was last week nominated in the final 30 of Cleo magazine's Bachelor of The Year. Normally seen as Latino lover Carlos on Channel Ten's Wonderland, the actor has now taken his place in a formidable line-up of models, topless waiters, athletes, fellow thespians and even a normal bloke or two all vying for bachelor supremacy.
Competition is fierce, but McMillan is quietly confident. And he has useful back-up. "My mate Craig Wing is a previous Bachelor of the Year and he's given me advice on how to get more votes," says McMillan. "He told me to say: 'I am the Brazilian lothario from TV and I will make all your dreams come true.'
"On second thoughts, I think he might be trying to sabotage me."
McMillan knows he's in distinguished company if he wins. "It's a stellar alumni," he says. "Russell Crowe, for example."
He's already had to brave the traditional shirts-off bachelor photo shoot, but for a bloke whose character hops into bed for a naked workout with on-screen partner Brooke Satchwell on most episodes of Wonderland, it wasn't too daunting. "I didn't do the push-ups first, though," he said. "I probably should have."
It's not all pecs and sex in McMillan's world, though; he's also about to do a stint as face of the ninth Sydney Latin American Film Festival, which launches this Wednesday (3 SEPT) with a screening of the Cuban filmBehaviour and a Cuban fiesta afterwards at Goodgod nightclub.
"I'm so impressed by the line-up," says McMillan, who was born in Brazil and has a Brazilian mum and Aussie dad. "And the ticket sales also raise money for grass roots Latin American community projects in places like Panama, Mexico and Chili.
"The festival gives a little insight into Latin American culture that we wouldn't have otherwise. I'm honoured to be able to support it."
Meanwhile, his Bachelor campaign continues – with plenty of teasing from his fellow Wonderland cast. "There's a topless pic of me on the wall on set, and they've drawn tattoos and nipple rings on it," he says. "But they're all behind me really. I'm ready to take the title."
He'd better watch out – if he gets too good at being a bachelor and taking off his shirt he might end up on that other Ten show; the one with all the fighting girls and those blokes over there on the other page. "Hell no," says McMillan. "Absolutely not. No way ever!"
TV cooks Luke Hines and Scott Gooding are leading a charge of celebrities cooking up at home for children's charity Camp Quality during the rest of August and September. The pair are encouraging everyone to host a Dine at Mine dinner, BBQ, brunch or even picnic and ask guests to donate to the cause. The boys rustled up a feast of dishes including whole ocean trout and lamb shoulder at the home of Bondi artist Martine Emdur. "I can never relax when I'm entertaining in my own home," said Gooding. Dineatmine.org.au
Diners at Jonah's in Whale Beach got a taste of rock royalty last week when they spotted legendary band Queen enjoying a lavish lunch on the hotel's Terrace Balcony. The veterans, including Roger Taylor and Brian May but minus Adam Lambert, were fuelling up before their Sydney gig. Jonah's is a perennial favourite with Brit rockers including Ronan Keating, Rod Stewart and One Direction.