A television show has landed in trouble after making allegedly disrespectful comments about Victoria Cross winner Ben Roberts-Smith.
The hosts of the Channel 10 program The Circle were forced to apologise after suggesting Roberts-Smith was "brainless" and "not up to it in the sack".
Pictures of the war hero shirtless in a swimming pool were aired on the morning television show on Monday with snide commentary from hosts, former Channel [V] host Yumi Stynes and veteran journalist George Negus.
"He's going to dive down to the bottom of the pool to see if his brain is there," Stynes said.
Negus responded, "I'm sure he's a really good guy, nothing about poor old Ben. But that sort of bloke, and what if they're not up to it in the sack?"
On this morning's show, Stynes said she was just making a joke and didn't realise the comments would spark the reaction they did.
"I didn't mean to offend," she said.
The network also posted an apology to the show's Facebook page. "Network 10 apologises for the comments made on The Circle yesterday surrounding Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith. We recognise he is a highly decorated soldier, national hero and we have the utmost respect for him. We are sorry for any offence this may have caused him and sincerely echo today's apology by The Circle," the statement read.
Corporal Roberts-Smith issued a statement saying he had read the apologies from the hosts and wanted to get back to serving his country.
“Initially I was a little surprised at the comments but I also understand they were not meant to be malicious in any way," Corporal Roberts-Smith said.
“I would like to thank the Australian public and Australian Defence Force personnel for their overwhelming support - my wife and I were extremely touched by the outpouring of support and concern.
“I have read the statements from both Yumi and George and they have both since contacted me directly to apologise for any offence caused.
“I have now put this matter behind me so I can focus on serving my country.”
The comments have sparked outrage among the viewers with the show’s Facebook page flooded with furious feedback.
"Not that you had much of my respect before hand. but you have lost it all now,” wrote one viewer on The Circle's Facebook page.
"Un-Australian! Your comments are a DISGRACE, and have no place on national tv! You have no place on national TV!!" wrote another.
"I’m all for irreverent humour but this was completely uncalled for and completely inappropriate. Channel 10 should be ashamed of themselves for putting you on air."
Another said he could not "believe they would speak so trashy about a guy who would do anything for our country".
Some called for Yumi to be sacked from the show. "Yumi you are an absolute disgrace. You should be ashamed of your self. Have some respect for the soldiers who everyday put their lives on the line so that we may live in peace. How about you go and do some research before you Ben Roberts-Smith”.
The Channel 10 show came under fire especially after Corporal Roberts-Smith's emotional interview to Seven's Sunday Night where he revealed that he and his wife had conceived their twin daughters through IVF treatment.
In an candid chat, Roberts-Smith talked about the struggle to leave behind his wife and twin daughters to fight in a battle from which he might never return.
"To have the girls was easily the best day of my life. It took us a long time to have the kids through IVF, but I very much believe in what we're doing," he told Sunday Night.
On June 11, 2010, in northern Kandahar, his unit was assigned a high-priority mission - to capture or kill a high-ranking Taliban leader.
Exposing himself to high risk, Corporal Roberts-Smith drew fire away from his fellow Diggers and single-handedly silenced two Taliban machine gun posts.
"If you can understand, it was not what you would consider an outhouse but a small, rundown little shed. I started to clear it through the window, and, as I did that, an RPG gunner had just started to protrude his weapon system outside of the window, and I was able to engage him at point blank," Roberts-Smith told Sunday Night.
He was awarded the VC for extraordinary heroism in bitter fighting as members of the Special Operations Task Group assaulted a Taliban stronghold in Kandahar Province on June 11, 2010.