I’M A Celebrity winner Giovanna Fletcher has said she could never wash off the castle’s grime – saying she showered in swimsuits or her underwear.
The 35-year-old star added that whenever she felt low in camp she put on a brave face because she didn’t want to disappoint her three young sons watching her from home.
The first ever Queen of the Castle, tells how she battled freezing temperatures, pining for her kids, the stress of feeding her campmates and shaking with nerves before eating a bull’s penis.
She said: “All I kept thinking about when I felt low is that I made a promise to my boys before going in that they would see mummy on TV having fun and enjoying herself and that is what kept me going in there.
“Any moments that were hard I just thought of my sons, it kept me going I didn’t want to let them think I was scared with a snake on my head or when I was going over the side of the cliff. I just did it without overthinking it or letting fear take over.
“There were moments in the castle where I’d be lying in bed imagining their smiley faces and thinking about them. I had to immerse myself in the TV show and put family life in a little box. I didn’t want to cry the whole time or what was the point?”
The brunette, who has three sons with McFly star Tom Fletcher, 35, Buzz, six, Buddy, four, and Max, two, soon earned herself the nickname of Mamma Gi in camp thanks to her nurturing nature and warm hugs.
She said: “I was constantly putting my arm around everyone. I was always observing what everyone was going through, how their moods changed, who was being quiet, I was aware of people’s up and downs.”
She quickly bonded with fellow mum Ex-EastEnder Jessica Plummer, 28, who missed her own daughter.
She said: “On the first night Jess found it all really overwhelming, it had been a heightened day with lots of adrenaline and she had to say goodbye to her daughter the night before.
“It’s easy to think you’re the only person having a moment, but someone else might express it in a different way. Jess and I formed a bond really quickly, I wanted to make her aware it was OK and we all feel those things.
“Victoria Derbyshire and I found a new way of hugging. When anyone was having a down day in there they were never alone, as much as I was the one giving comfort, that came back to me as well. ”
She also saw fellow favourite and runner-up Jordan North’s confidence grow as he overcame his many fears and sees him as her king.
She said: “I watched Jordan’s journey – I was up the cliff with him on day one, I saw him spew up, watched the colour drain from his face, realising the fear was very real, we knew from that point that the next public vote for a trial was going to go to him.
“Seeing him tell us about the blind panic he had on the three or four trials after that, all the elements he was scared of, even though he felt the fear of those enclosed spaces, he still did it and found that bravery.
“It was only when his mum and dad told him how brave he was and he listened to us say that he started to believe it.
“For him he will hopefully carry it through life because he has all these fears that are holding him back, which is OK, but you can’t let them stop you from doing the things that you really want to do. To be stood there next to him is just brilliant, he’s basically king now anyway.”
Fans watched as she shed tears after missing out on a message from home during one of the camp trials, but seeing a shooting star flash across the sky when she was having a moment to herself to cry gave her hope.
She said: “It was heart wrenching – those words mean so much, I didn’t want to dampen everyone else’s enjoyment of it.
“I was crying a lot, so I took myself off and there was a shooting star, which travelled across the sky and I thought that was my boys and Tom. Then Victoria came and gave me one of her glorious hugs.”
As well as the constant hunger Gi admits she felt under pressure as the camp cook with limited ingredients.
She said: “It was intense having everyone watch you cook because you are cooking things like rice, beans, squirrel and pigeon and everyone by that point just wants to go to bed, but you’ve got to prep food.
“Vernon chipped in with ideas of food, but I don’t think he realised the pressure of having 11 campmates who were hungry and tired around you until he became chef.
“It’s something that we really laughed about, we would never have got to boiling point though as we were so aware of each other and supporting each other.”
Gi’s popularity with the public meant she avoided being voted into doing Bushtucker Trials, however when she was in the final three she had to do a dreaded eating challenge – chowing down on a fermented egg, fish eye, bull’s penis and sheep’s testicle.
She said: “I had been dreading having an eating trial the whole time. I had been gagging on all the food in camp, even the rice and vegetables, which tasted of the boiled water from the well, it was an awful taste.
“When I sat down I was shaking so much, I was so nervous about it. My mouth was so dry picking up the fermented duck egg, I was amazed I got through that and the cow’s nose without gagging.
“The fish eye made me want to throw up – the texture, the blood, the saltiness, Ant and Dec talking about it. I took ages because I found it easier to chew slowly.”
The near-zero temperatures meant Gi dreaded getting undressed for the showers, and with producers forcing campmates to shower daily to try and prevent and Covid-19 outbreaks, it wasn’t an activity that could be easily avoided.
She said: “I completely forgot about my appearance in the show. It was only the last few days that started brushing my hair with my fingers.
“I wore my underwear in the shower or my swimming costumes. I can’t get all the castle dirt and grime off my hands, they’ve been filthy the whole time. My nails are awful.
“It was so cold in there I tried not to wear my thermals in the daytime for the first 10 days, because I tried not to feel the cold, I knew it would get colder the further in the competition we went on. Getting into the shower was horrible.”