A legend in the jungle – with viewers, at least – I’m A Celebrity South Africa’s Gillian McKeith, 63, is known for being one of the show’s most divisive, drama-prone celebs.
During the current series, we’ve seen her rub her fellow stars up the wrong way with her sneaky stash of contraband – and who could forget her infamous ‘fainting’ episode back in 2010.
Whatever your views on “Jungle Gill”, her quirky habits make for great telly. Her awkward reunion with former nemesis Shaun Ryder, 60, was hilarious to watch, with the Happy Mondays singer telling his fellow campmates, “Last time I wanted to kill her.”
Here, in our exclusive interview, which took place after she’d secretly filmed the ITV1 show, the nutritionist tells us her debilitating spider phobia is showing no signs of going away…
Hi, Gillian. You didn’t seem to enjoy your first experience on I’m A Celeb. Why did you decide to do it?
I didn’t know the show. I thought it would be an experience and put me out of my comfort zone, but I didn’t understand until I got in. I was in complete shock. I hadn’t watched one episode. I knew it was in the jungle, but I thought it would be a TV set, we’d go there, film and then we’d go to a hotel at night.
It must have been a rude awakening then?
The funny thing is, when I arrived in Australia the first night – that’s exactly what happened. I remember Sheryl Gascoigne, Stacey Solomon and I were somehow pitched against the boys and we won – not with my help, unfortunately. So we went to a big fancy house that night, an incredible home on the Gold Coast. I thought, “This is going to be easy.” Boy was I in for a shock!
Was the money really good, at least?
Yes, of course. Why does anyone do it?
How much were you paid?
A lot – six figures. So of course it’s worth it.
You didn’t get on with some campmates…
I’m OK with people I don’t necessarily agree with, but Shaun Ryder… we didn’t hit it off.
Did appearing on the show help you overcome your phobias, at least?
No, I’m worse than ever. I left terrorised and it hasn’t gone away. I have lots of insect phobias, but spiders are the worst. I don’t want to get close up to spiders.
Big Brother is back. You appeared briefly to “detox” the celebs in 2016. Would you go in again?
I’d never be a contestant because I like to be in control. I don’t mind going in and detoxing the house, but I wouldn’t be a contestant. You’re at the mercy of the producers. You can be asked to do crazy things I just wouldn’t do.
You found fame as the host of Channel 4 show You Are What You Eat. Would you like to do something like that again?
I’m constantly asked by people all over the world to reinvigorate that type of show, but I’d like to move on and do something different, but similar. Times have moved on.
Today there’s much more talk about mental health, particularly in relation to menopause. What are your thoughts?
I do not think the menopause has to be brutal. The symptoms can’t be completely eradicated, but there is so much that we can do to alleviate [them]. Like your diet, mindset, how you handle your fitness and herbal supplements, for example. There is a lot that can be done to minimise the effects. I had a clinic in London for 15 years and I never had to put anyone on HRT. All my ladies did it herbally and through diet and they were all fine. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take HRT, but the clients I had didn’t need it.
What was your own experience of menopause like?
I didn’t have one single symptom, but maybe it was luck. Everyone is different, so each person has to have a unique approach.
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