Fans and friends rally round Anne Hegerty as she makes I’m A Celebrity debut

Fans, fellow Chasers and Rylan Clark-Neal have heaped praise on Anne Hegerty as the quiz maestro made her I’m A Celebrity debut.

Hegerty, who stars as the stern Governess in ITV’s teatime quiz show The Chase, has Asperger’s and had told how elements of being in the camp could be a “source of stress”.

The 60-year-old became upset during Sunday’s opening episode, telling her fellow celebrity contestants: “I’m just really, really close to saying I can’t do this.”

Rugby referee Alex Lambe hailed Hegerty as an “incredible person” who had given him confidence to speak about his experience living with the condition.

He wrote on twitter: “I myself was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome a few years ago. I understand how Anne feels. She is an incredible person and she is the person who gave me the confidence to speak about my diagnosis to other people. Anne is a fantastic role model to me. The Governess is amazing!”

Fellow Chase quizzer Jenny Ryan defended Hegerty after a Twitter user suggested she should be able to cope with the show’s pressures as she is “getting well paid”.

Calling her “incredibly brave”, Ryan tweeted: “Anne has Asperger’s Syndrome which has a positive benefit on her quizzing ability but also means that a lot of things that us Neurotypicals don’t think twice about are incredibly difficult and stressful for her.

“It’s so much more of a challenge for the Governess than you presume.”

Shaun Wallace, the show’s “Dark Destroyer”, tweeted Hegerty, saying: “We are all rooting for you!”

Meanwhile Clark-Neal made his admiration for Hegerty plain on Twitter, declaring: “I LOVE ANNE HEGERTY.”

“Not gonna lie, I know I’m gonna be LIVING for Anne Hegerty in the jungle #ImACeleb,” the presenter tweeted.

The professional quizzer spoke about living with Asperger’s ahead of her arrival in the jungle, insisting that she did not want her fellow celebrities to feel sorry for her.

She said: “I do respond well to structure. I think it will be quite structured in there. I will understand, ‘at this time I have to fetch wood and water’, doing that will make sense.

“But being surrounded by people I can’t get away from, or those who talk all the time, can be a source of stress.”

Asperger’s is one of a range of syndromes known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

It affects a person’s social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.

According to the NHS around one in every 100 people in the UK is thought to have ASD.

The National Autistic Society said it was “backing @anne_hegerty all the way on her #imaceleb journey”.