I'm A Celebrity producers were left shaken over Myleene Klass' show-stopping Bushtucker trial where she swallowed 40 spoons of fermented tofu. Klass, 45, tells Yahoo: “I was thinking, ‘They’re not gonna kill me because somewhere in the world someone’s done this’ but it turns out no one in the world had done this before.”
As the excitement builds around the possible 2023 I’m A Celeb line-up starting on 19 November, the 'They Don't Teach This At School' podcast host has reflected on her own jaw-dropping experiences in the jungle. Having conquered the world of showbiz, the former Hear'Say star has also mastered her fears with two memorable stints on I’m A Celebrity.
Her jungle journey started 17 years ago when the musician made her first fearless appearance Down Under in 2006, where she came second place and won the hearts of the nation. “I think a lot of people just didn’t think I could do it,” she said. “I was in quite a vulnerable place when I went into the jungle the first time. I wasn’t in the band any longer, I’d gone back to classical music. I was trying to find my footing and trying to figure out what I was gonna do but when you’re stripped bare and then people decide they like you, that was a really defining moment for me.”
More recently Klass was crowned the Queen in the I’m A Celebrity Legend in the South African jungle, which she described as the “actual Hunger Games”, and she generously donated her £100,000 winning fee to Save The Children.
Bushtucker eating trial
First time round, she managed to get through without doing an eating trial - so of course TV bosses weren’t going to let her get out of it in I’m A Celebrity All Stars. But I’m A Celeb’s cheeky hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly let slip to Klass afterwards that TV bosses could not believe their eyes when she was devouring all of the grisly dishes.
“I spoke to Ant and Dec on the plane on the way back,” she said. “And they actually said, ‘When you said you were gonna do all 40, the producers were like it’s not going to happen.’ And they said, ‘The producers started coming out from the tent halfway through where they were watching the monitors to actually see this with their own eyes, because they were like: ‘No!’
“I'm like, ‘God, I have no idea that this is all going on behind the scenes.’ I was thinking, ‘They're not gonna kill me because somewhere in the world someone's done this’, but it turns out no one in the world had done this before.
“Ant and Dec said, ‘You were a machine. What were you doing?’ And I said, ‘I just thought that somebody must have done 40, you wouldn’t have given me 40!’ They were like: ‘No, no.’ And the games leader said no one had got past seven. I thought, ‘Jesus, I did seven in the first minute!’ I have never felt so sick in my life.”
Klass was also hit with a huge dentist bill after she bit down on 60 mouse tails as three of them broke the back of her hidden brace. “The mice got their own back, they got a retribution,” she said. “The mouse tails took my brace off. So they cost me a hell of a lot in dentist bills. I did 60. I had to bite the mouse tails and two or three of them got lodged in the back of my hidden brace around the back.
“I went straight to the dentist. Imagine going into the dentist and saying, ‘My brace has been dislodged by about three mouse tails.’ They look at you like, ‘What?’ It is just humiliating, that those mice got their own back! Honestly, the eating challenge was just rancid.”
But it wasn’t eating the mouse tails that got to her - or the facing off snakes or battling the skyscraper heights or the creepy crawlies. What broke the fearless star was missing her three children - Ava, Hero and Apollo - who were loyally watching back home. They had packed their mum off with little bracelets they made with their names on them for Klass to hold during the trials or when she was thinking of them.
Speaking from the heart, she said: “Whether it’s heights or darkness or spiders or snakes or whatever it might be, I know those are things I can override. But the thing that broke me every single time, if the producers of the show wanted to finish me, they would get me into the Telegraph and go: ‘Missing home?’
“I’m not frightened of anything except something happening to my children. I’m like any mum, you can overcome any fear but your children are your achilles heel, they are your strength and they are your weakness.”
She added: “Doing it this time round meant more to me than ever because my children were watching me but the funny thing is there is nothing more humbling than children. They watched it and they were like, ‘Yeah that’s good.’ And then, ‘What’s for dinner?’”
Secret to success
Determined to be a good role model to her kids, she was spurred on to experience everything in the South African jungle. She said: “I wanted my children to see me face those fears. I'm in a really uncomfortable situation but I'm gonna come out of it and we are in a society where we underestimate working mums. I've been a single mum. It is a really tough time emotionally because it's a heavy mental load. And to go through something like the jungle that tests you on every single ability that you have, you think it's all gonna be physical but it's mostly mental.”
Being underestimated is her secret to success on the reality TV series, Klass said. “I think people underestimate me all the time because they see the size of me and because I didn't train as an Olympic athlete,” she said. “But I've trained as a musician and there is nothing tougher than actually sitting in a room by yourself. You have to have such a strong mindset and I know that program is ridiculous when you look at somebody who's one person's hurling a javelin and the other person's learning a piano sonata. But the mindset you have, you have to have immense focus and tenacity and dedication and you have to really believe that you can come up with the good and then you have to face the audience for those three minutes of working for 13 years to get that piece together.”
I'm A Celeb friendships
Out of I'm A Celeb, Klass has made some lifelong friendships including with Paul Burrell who often sends her postcards from the fabulous places he is visiting.
"He always sends me a postcard to wherever he goes," she said. "And my friend came out and they were like, 'Who's sending postcards?' I thought about it. I'm like, 'You're right.' Nobody, nobody, nobody in the whole world sends postcards anymore except for Paul Burrell."
Also, she has crossed paths again with her former I'm A Celeb All Stars co-star Amir Khan when he appeared on her podcast 'They Don't Teach This At School', based off her bestselling book, which is all about the life lessons they don't put on the curriculum.
"The first thing I said to Amir is, 'I've got a bone to pick with you because you got onto my bed'," she said. "I walked into the jungle and because I came in late, Phil Tufnell went out and I was meant to take Phil's bed, but Amir jumped in it.
"So I got the Hammock, I had the Hammock for the rest of the entire show. I was like, 'You owe me, come and come and chat on my podcast.'" And he did.
Sharing her admiration for him, she added: "I absolutely adore Amir because it's almost like that kid that just never grew up cos he was famous. He won his Olympic medal at 17. It's just staggering.
"You don't know who you are at 17. You're just still starting out and figuring out who you want to be. And then suddenly he's thrust into like absolute fame."
A whole galaxy of stars have appeared on her podcast including Amanda Holden, Roman Kemp, Sophie Ellis-Bextor Lauren Laverne, Caitlin Moran and more.
Of doing her podcast, Klass added: “People assume that just because people are in the public eye that they're gonna have an easy ride of it and you'd almost want them to because it's that striving to what we think is gonna be the perfect life and it's something reassuring to know that not everyone's got those answers and not everyone's had the easiest time of it.”
White bikini reaction
Of course, Klass stole the limelight on I'm A Celebrity in 2006 when she wore a white bikini in the outdoor shower. Almost two decades later, she courted attention in a white two-piece again but this time in the South African jungle.
In response to the frenzy around her shower scenes, she said: “A lot of people kept comparing my bikini photos from the first time to my bikini photos the second time and I'm like, ‘Guys I’m the same person, you are just comparing the same person.’ So I've got a lot to thank my younger self for because she put me on a path of fashion and branding and being able to reach an incredible market of women who I really do value as my customer. We don't also wanna spend the most ridiculous amounts of money on our clothes but we want to feel confident.
“So I understand that mindset because I'm a woman myself and then you put me back in the jungle and let's be honest, that's seven pregnancies later, three children that I've had three children and I’m back in that bikini.”
Kind-hearted Klass auctioned the white bikini off for £7,500 for charity. She said: “You know what that bikini has done its job! It’s done a lot. It’s quite incredible.”
While a lot of the attention was on her shower scenes, Klass revealed she found it funny because while on the show she thought the best thing she did was build a sundial. I’m A Celebrity campmates lose track of time because they aren’t allowed watches. “You don’t know when lunch is, you don’t know when dinner is, you become so discombobulated,” she said. Klass knew what time it was in the UK when McPartlin and Donnelly say ‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here’ so she could work the time back. After spying a researcher’s watch which read 2.06, she got to work on her sundial.
She said: “I had two definitive times and then the rest I kept figuring out as the show went on. I was like, oh my God. I think I'm a genius. And I came out, and everyone was just like, oh we really loved the white bikini!”
She added: “This time I knew they’d be looking at me in my white bikini and I think the reason I brought my white bikini back here is because I owe it a thank you. It would have felt weird to bring in anything else.”
Check out Myleene Klass' 'They Don't Teach This At School' podcast
I'm A Celebrity returns to our screens on ITV at 9pm on 19 November
Read more: I'm A Celebrity
Watch Ant and Dec talk about I'm A Celebrity All Stars