Ashley Roberts has defended reality TV insisting her experience of it has only been a positive one.
The former Pussycat Doll - who has just announced her West End debut in The Waitress - was the runner-up in I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! in 2012, where she was subjected to sharing a bed with rats and eating camel penis. She also finished second in Strictly Come Dancing last year, where she met her dancer boyfriend Giovanni Pernice.
Reality TV has come under fire - with the government launching an inquiry into the duty of care producers have to participants - following the death of a guest on The Jeremy Kyle Show and Love Island contestants Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon.
Roberts told Yahoo: “The jungle really just changed my life. Especially being over her in the UK, I felt like I go scooped up by the Brits. It was challenging, absolutely it was challenging, but I felt like Jane of the Jungle after that.
“And Strictly is so amazing, you get to learn a skill and getting to learn all those different styles of dance. And having Pasha [Kovalev, her dance partner] by my side, who was such a solid rock for me. I feel really blessed.
“I’ve gotten to do some amazing shows and have friendships that will last forever from them. So my experience has been good.”
It was through Strictly that Roberts met her boyfriend, professional dancer Pernice, 28, who she thinks is even more excited about her new West End role than her.
Roberts will join the cast of hit stage musical The Waitress, playing kookie side kick Dawn at the Adelphi Theatre in London in June.
She said: “Giovanni is a huge musical theatre fan so I think he might be even more excited than I am. He’s so supportive. He’s definitely going to be there on opening night. It’s nice to be able to share the love of performance with someone.”
Roberts admitted she was feeling a little nervous about acting in a musical for the first time.
She said: “I nervous but excited. I’ve never down West End before, this is going to be my little debut and I’m really excited about it.
“A pop concert is a different energy, when you’re doing the song and people are jumping up and down or dancing. I think Strictly really is what lit the fire inside me to want to get out there and perform. Getting to the stories and the characters that we did each week, I thought I’d really like to do a theatre show, which I’d never felt before.”
Roberts is the highest scoring Strictly contestant ever, despite being runner-up, but she insisted The Waitress will be something completely new for her.
She said: “There’s not that much dancing. I think that’s also what I’m excited about. There is dancing, but also a lot of character and music and singing. So I can take people for a little journey that they haven’t been down with me before.”