When Charlie Brooks took a sabbatical from her role as Janine Butcher in EastEnders in 2021, she wanted to perform in a play. Life, however, took a different turn and she instead found herself being offered the chance of living in the jungle for two weeks on I’m A Celebrity.
While she eventually accepted the offer, Brooks said she was initially unsure about whether to go for it and sought advice from a fellow EastEnders star.
Speaking on White Wine Question Time, she revealed she asked her on-screen step-mother Pat Butcher what she thought she should do.
“I actually rang Pam St.Clement, because I couldn't possibly make the decision myself,” Brooks said.
Watch: Charlie Brooks talks about her love for her EastEnders character Janine Butcher
She continued: “I'll never forget, she said to me, 'You're somebody that loves the outdoors, you love adventure - and I think this will be a really good opportunity for you to just go and do that.'”
Brooks revealed she was on a break from EastEnders when the phone call came in, but that her intention had originally been to “go all thespian”.
The 39-year-old actor said going to the jungle had not been part of her thought process: "But they called about three times and we're talking about a lot of money with shows like that.”
The fee wasn’t the only appealing thing about appearing on I’m A Celebrity.
Brooks said: “I wanted to fly my family to Australia first class, because we'd never normally get the chance to do that.”
“In the end, I thought about it and I just thought TV has changed a little bit actually and maybe don't take yourself so seriously… And I also have a mortgage to pay off and so I just thought, ‘OK, I'm going to do it.’”
The one thing she didn’t expect from her time in the jungle was winning. She beat singer Ashley Roberts and boxer David Haye to the top spot, something that took her totally by surprise.
“It was insane - I thought I'd be out like first or second,” she said.
“Then I thought, ‘I'll have a lovely time in that Versace Hotel by the pool… It's going to be amazing.”
Unlike all of the past winners, Brooks didn’t come home to fanfare from the British public and instead travelled around Australia with her daughter Kiki for a few weeks afterwards.
She said they also stayed in the country because she felt “uncomfortable around all that stuff.”
“I had said to the producers before ‘Am I obliged to do anything afterwards?’ And they said, no and for me, that was just the way I wanted to do it.” Brooks told podcast host Kate Thornton.
“I wanted to do the show - I wanted that experience - and then I wanted to travel Australia for as long as I could. You can engage with the press a lot or not and it does make me a bit fearful.”
Brooks is tipped to return to EastEnders once more as Janine Butcher, after leaving seven years ago.
While nothing has been confirmed by the BBC, she looks set to come back in a huge storyline later this year.
Hear Charlie Brooks talk about how she and her ex’s unusual relationship has helped them be great co-parents on the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Watch: Charlie Brooks talks about what it's like having her ex living upstairs!