In an exclusive interview with online slots site Betway, former I’m A Celebrity star Jake Quickenden discusses the upcoming All Stars series and his time in the Australian jungle back in 2014.
How did you find your experience on I’m A Celebrity?
I absolutely loved it. For me, I was a huge fan of the show growing up, I used to watch it with my dad all the time. And then when I got booted out The X Factor, I was like, what am I going to do now? I’m A Celebrity came knocking on the door, so it was a chance to do one of my favourite shows ever. I had so many childhood memories of watching it with my old man.
I’m not really bothered about fame, but it gave me another shot to do well. I was just delighted to get asked to do it and it really didn’t disappoint. When I got there, I was very nervous. Obviously, I was on X Factor, but it was my first experience being massively in the public eye. I then went into the jungle with people that I recognised from TV, having to make friends with them, when really I was a little bit starstruck. It was a weird experience, but I wouldn’t change a single thing that happened, I absolutely loved it.
You appeared on the show shortly after The X Factor, did you feel prepared?
I weighed up the options when I got asked, and I was like, it could potentially change my life. I’ve since had so many amazing opportunities. For me, life is all about taking risks, putting yourself outside your comfort zone and growing in different ways. I knew it was going to be big and change my life, but I just thought, let’s see how it can be. I enjoyed every single second that I was there. I didn’t want to moan about the lack of food, I didn’t want to moan about trials. I just tried to wake up every morning and go, what an amazing opportunity I’ve got.
Was it harder than you expected?
It was kind of what I expected, if I’m honest. I did partly think they might send down a Pizza Hut in a box at night, but they never did. I was a little bit disappointed with that because it was only rice and beans. I think the only thing that I struggled with was boredom. I have to be active and I need to be moving. The boredom in there is a little bit what got to me. Plus, you’re knackered and you’re really hungry as well.
People forget that you are sitting around for most of the day. You’ve had all your big conversations with everyone in the first few days, so then it kind of becomes like a family setting, where you’re just chilling. If you don’t get a chance to go do the Dingo Dollar Challenge or the trial, then you’re just sitting around. You’re lying in your hammock all day until the food comes, so it can be boring. To be honest, I sunbathed for most of the day and got a tan.
How did you get on with the campmates?
We luckily had a really good year and everyone got along. There was not really any tension at all, and everyone was great. Jimmy Bullard was there, I’m a huge football fan and a huge fan of his personality on the pitch, so to meet him was class. I flew in late with Edwina Currie – I didn’t have a clue who she was, but she’s somebody that I’ve kept in contact with. It was a really nice year, which I was glad about.
For me, confrontation is something that I don’t really like, but if it happens, it happens. As I’ve got older, I’ve got better at dealing with it and having my say, and not being taken a fool for. Back then I was 24, I didn’t really like confrontation. I’m glad that there wasn’t much arguing in there because I didn’t really know how to take it.
There was only one argument that I remember between Edwina and Kendra [Wilkinson]. I really liked both of them. I just tried to be a mediator and was like, we don’t need to do this. You do feel quite awkward when it’s happening because you don’t really know what to say. But I tried to be the mediator and I think that’s what I’d probably do now.”
Did you miss anything whilst in the jungle?
Chocolate! I’ve got the biggest sweet tooth. We got sent packages from home and I was like, I know my mum, she’s going to send me a Snickers. But she sent me frickin’ cheesy Wotsits, so I was absolutely fuming. They’d been in an open bag for four days, so it was like eating cardboard. She couldn’t have chosen a worse crisp.
I actually didn’t mind not having contact with the outside world, I quite liked it. Instagram was fairly new back then, so it was nice to not be on that. Whenever I get a job now that sends me away and I don’t have to be in contact with anyone, I don’t have to worry about my phone, it’s when I have the best time. It’s the time when you can make the best memories because you’re not always looking at your phone. Obviously, it was hard not speaking to my mum and my family, but I could deal with not speaking to them for three weeks. I got a letter from home, which was amazing and what I needed. But yeah, you’ve got to accept what you signed up for.
How did you find adjusting to life after the show?
I got straight back into it. My mum greeted me on the bridge and that was lovely. We then went back to the hotel with some of my friends and family, so I was buzzing to see them. I remember just eating whatever I could get my hands on. I ordered about five desserts to the hotel room. I didn’t really know the impact of it all until I got home. I remember going shopping with a few mates in Sheffield, and I couldn’t get out of the shops because there were so many people. I was like, this is actually pretty big, like people recognise me now. But everyone was always so nice and they’ve continued to be so nice.
I think there is a lot more pressure on people who go into reality shows now. That’s why they have sorted out their duty of care to look after those contestants. People going into Love Island and I’m A Celeb now, they can be targeted on social media. You get people going in there with ten followers and coming out with a million. That can be quite daunting, so there’s a lot more pressure nowadays. There’s also a lot more social media backlash. You’ve got to remember that life is the same, but you’ve just got people that know who you are.
Have you got any production secrets from your time on the show?
The cameramen are not allowed to talk to you, so when you go to a trial, you’ve obviously got a few following you. I remember one of them had Tic Tacs and I was like, can I please have a Tic Tac? He obviously wasn’t allowed to talk to me and wasn’t allowed to give me one. I always used to ask them for the football scores, but they’d never talk to you. You do see people throughout the day, but it’s like you’re invisible. It’s weird but it’s so funny trying to wind them up and getting them to talk.
Did you lose weight whilst on the show?
I lost a stone in three weeks, but I kind of expected myself to lose more. I’ve got quite a big appetite and I’m quite a big guy, so I expected to lose more. I lost a stone and that literally was back on within about two days. I remember we got a final meal in camp, where you get to choose your starter, main and dessert. I ate it and I never felt so ill afterwards because my stomach had shrunk.
Do you think you would find taking part in the show more difficult now that you have a family?
Yeah, 100 per cent. I would find it much harder now having my little boy, stepson and my wife. Not being able to talk to them would be much harder. When I did it, I just had myself to think about. Now that I’ve got a family, I think it makes it a lot harder. But that’s why we do things, for our families and obviously people aren’t going to be going in there for free. You do it for the money and paycheck, then hopefully you come out staying true to yourself.
I’m A Celebrity is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year – do you think the show is still relevant?
I think the show is one of the only ones that is still relevant. You see shows come and go, you saw Love Island this year not do as good as it usually does. I’m A Celeb always hits similar viewers, it always does amazing, and they’ve got the two best presenters fronting in it. I just always love watching it. It’s something that I stick on at night with a cup of tea, and I’ll always watch it. I’m really interested to see how the South African one works. It’s a bit of a different concept, but also quite exciting to see how it works.
Do you think an All Stars series was needed?
I don’t think it was needed, but it’s cool that it’s here. We get to see people that have already done it, and people that have maybe not been great get a chance to do it better. And like I say, it’s a different concept. It’s a bit more challenging, because they’re actually going up against each other in the trials to stay in. I would have loved that, I love competition. I think it’s going to be great. Again, it’s got Ant and Dec fronting it, so people are going to tune in.
I think the line-up is great, but I think it would have maybe made a tiny little bit better if I was in there. It is what it is, though. It’s been 20 years, there’s been so many people. You never know, they might do a few more All Stars and I’d love to get involved. But I think the cast that they’ve got is great. You’ve got a real mix of people from the old school version, with some people that were really terrified of certain things. So yeah, I think it’s going to be great.
Do you think they’re missing any iconic campmates from the All Star series?
I think they’ve got a really good mixture of people from it. I would have loved to see Jimmy [Bullard] back in there if I’m honest. Jimmy went out first in our year and he was brilliant. Dean Gaffney would have been great because he was terrified of everything. But they’ve also got people in there like Paul Burrell and Helen Flanagan, who are two other people who were scared of everything. If you just had a camp that was scared of everything, it might not make for a great viewing. Maybe that’s why they didn’t get Gaffney.
I quite liked Dougie Poytner when he was in it. Stacey Solomon would have been great to have back in there. She was really great in her year. Kerry Katona when she won, she was one of the first to win it. She was a real good laugh, so there’s so many people that you can put in there. I do think they could have put anyone in, but think the line-up that they’ve done is really good.
What are your thoughts on the show being in South Africa, rather than Australia?
I think it’s cool. They couldn’t just do it in Oz, because it would be the same as the normal one. Looking at the little clip that I’ve seen, it looks amazing. That’s another reason why I’m annoyed I’m not doing it, as I’d have loved to go to South Africa.
I’m intrigued to see how it does. I think it will be a lot different to the normal Australian show. That’s voted for by the public, so the public have a huge say in it, whereas they don’t with this show. It’s going to be intriguing to see how it pans out, but again, I love the competition aspect.