After 40 days and 4 kilograms lost in the jungle, Melbourne-based Ash Pollard leaves I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! Pollard, 30, a veteran competitor on shows such as My Kitchen Rules and Dancing With the Stars, talks to WHO about making friends, conquering snakes and taking on new challenges.
Q: What was your first night of civilisation like?
A: It's bittersweet to be out of the jungle. I was pretty sad to actually go, but on the other hand, extremely elated to get out of there. My first moment of actually getting clean in the real world was sensational. Just having a body wash that actually smelt like something was beautiful, and then lathering myself in moisturiser afterward was equally beautiful. My senses are just completely overwhelmed with everything in the outside world — my perfume, my body lotion, my face cream. In fact, it's crazy.
Q: Was going on the show a great thing to do?
A: It really was. Whilst you're in the jungle you are often thinking, 'What am I doing here and why am I doing this?' But I guess you gain some real perspective once you come out and you think, 'My God, that was actually the hardest thing I've ever done and kudos to you, girlfriend, because you made it five and a half weeks and that's epic.' I can't even tell you.
Q: Looking back, what was the challenge that most surprised you by what you were capable of?
A: I thought did really well in the Viper Room. I had a pretty big panic attack before and I've been told it actually went to air, so yeah, I was having a bit of a nervous breakdown for that. I didn't think I would be able to do it purely because I was buried underground in a coffin full of water and 100 snakes, and Tziporah, which is equally scary. But I didn't think I'd be able to do it and I did it, and I did it for strangers so that they could eat dinner, which if you think about it, is totally crazy.
Q: Usually blackmail involves money, not meagre meals.
A: You could not pay me to do that in the outside world. No amount of money. And yet I did it for some really bad food!
Q: Are there any jungle recipes you'll take home with you?
A: Absolutely not. I'm never eating beans and rice again, I can tell you that right now. I actually went back to my lodge last night and they had such a beautiful, beautiful dinner waiting for me and they had a side of beans and rice and cauliflower! I thought, is this a joke?
Q: Who are the people you are staying in touch with?
A: I will be definitely be staying in touch with Steve Price, Dane Swan, Kris Smith and Nazeem Hussain, and of course Casey Donovan, to name a few for sure.
Q: Carson claimed Kris as his boyfriend. Are you going to challenge him on that?
A: [Laughs] He can have him!
Q: You told such entertaining, um, stories, on the show, but you also revealed a lot of yourself. Did you ever think you would be so candid on TV?
A: I don't have much to hide. Obviously I like to keep a few things to myself, but for the most part, what you heard on television, I never regret anything I say. I would hate to. But yeah, I haven't watched the show back. I will, but I haven't heard anything that I'd be shocked by that's come out of my mouth so far.
Q: Your motivation for choosing Beyond Blue as your charity was so moving. Did you think you would get so emotional telling the story of your uncle?
A: I didn't realise I would. I guess revealing that and finally speaking openly about it was quite therapeutic in a way. It's not something that my family and I have done for a number of years and I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to use, I guess, my profile and reach from the exposure on the show to help a cause that's close to my heart in such a positive way. The time is perfect and the time is right for me to expose that grief that my family and I went through a number of years ago just to let everybody know that not everybody lives fabulously happy lives all the time. There's always grief, there's always hardship and my family has gone through that, and I would love to help in any way, shape or form that I can by using my profile.
Q: You've said this is the last reality show you will compete in?
A: Yeah, I don't endeavor to make a career out of being a reality television contestant, so I will be hanging up my boots on being a contestant on a reality television show. However, I would not say no to hosting a reality television show, so if the opportunity does arise, I may just jump right on board.
Q: So what is next for you?
A: Well right now, when I get back to Melbourne after my little holiday in South Africa, I will be busily working away at putting together an e-book, which is a compilation of my favourite recipes which I cook at home, so that will come out in the next couple of months, and then post that, I guess I'll continue to knock on doors and go down every avenue I possibly can for more opportunities. There are things bubbling away, which I obviously can't talk about. I guess the only thing for me to say is, stay tuned!