Paul Burrell, Princess Diana's former butler, is the latest intruder to join the teammates in I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!
What convinced you to go on the show?
It is such a long time since I did it in the UK and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am competitive, I love people and I love the comradery that builds between the people there. That’s what I’m used to from my Royal world. I’ve changed so much since the last time I did it and I want to talk about things that are very important to me. It’s a great platform to say hey, I’m almost 60 years old, I have two grown up sons, and I decided I was to marry a man. I want to explain why this change occurred, I want to reach out to people watching this show as there will be a lot of dads watching that are struggling with their sexuality, who don’t know where to turn and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve lived with the guilt and shame for many years, but no more. It’s gone. That veil has lifted. I don’t have any secrets. I’m an open book and I’m happy to talk about it.
What are you most looking forward to about being in the jungle?
Meeting people from all walks of life. Sitting around the camp fire and learning more about other people. I love to listen to people’s journeys. I also love the challenge aspect of it and I’m looking forward to doing the trials and raising the bar for me. There are some things I don’t like but I will have to conquer those fears. I think I can do it – I hope my body will let me do it!
I do know a little about the experience and I know everyone going in will say it was a life changing experience. I know they will say it, because it is.
What are you not looking forward to?
I’m not looking forward to snakes. I have a problem with snakes and I have to conquer this fear as it’s likely we will come across snakes at some stage.
Is this one of the craziest things that you’ve ever done? What have you done in the past that might compare to it?
No this is crazy. This is really, really, really crazy. I’ve lived a very tame life and a very safe life, until recently coming out. This is bonkers and people don’t realise yet how bonkers it is.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced and how did you overcome it?
My sexuality, definitely. Being married for so long and then having 2 children, people don’t understand the journey. The journey was when I was young, I didn’t quite know what I wanted in life. I experimented - I realised I didn’t want the gay world. Not in the early 80s – that wasn’t for me. I wanted to be married, I wanted to settle down and I wanted to have a family. My wife and I went into this wide eyed, knowing everything about each other and we formed a great partnership and a love that still endures to this day.
What I don’t like is when people say – why did you get married when you are gay? No, it’s not as simple as that. You have to go for what you want in life and what I wanted was a family. To watch my two boys being born was the most special moment in my life and I would not change that for anything.
Dealing with my sexuality over the years, praying and hoping no one would find out, wanting to protect my family and then eventually, getting to the top of that mountain, sitting in front of my two children and telling them that I am to marry a man. I burst into tears and they said – thank god for that, we thought you were dying.
So my biggest challenge was coming out with my sexuality and being proud. I can stand in the street and hold his hand. When I was little, we weren’t allowed to be gay. I come from a coal mining community in Northern England. Gay is not a word that is used in those communities. Of course it is always there, but it is never spoken about. But the world is a different place now, we can talk about it and I’m lucky enough to be one of those guys to say yes, this is me, this is who I am.
Have you ever had a near-death experience before?
I haven’t, but I’ve had this reoccurring dream that I am drowning. I think I must have been on the Titanic when it went down because I have this fear of being submerged in water. That’s the only near death experience I’ve had, but it’s in my dreams.
How far out of your comfort zone would you say this experience is for you?
It’s up there, this is probably the most exposed I can be.
Have you ever been into the jungle before?
Yes, I was on the UK version in 2004, I was in the jungle for 3 weeks and came runner up. The experience was life changing because I really feel you can only be you. The best advice anyone gave me was from my sons and they said to just be you and you’ll be fine. That’s what you’ll see in the jungle – you’ll see me. Maybe a different me that most people are expecting. I have a good set of life skills that were taught to me by two incredible human beings – Her Majesty the Queen and Diana.
I have a good set of life skills that were taught to me by two incredible human beings – Her Majesty the Queen and Diana.
Tell us something about yourself your campmates won’t know about you.
They won’t know that if I win this show, I am going to have a map of Australia tattooed on my body. Australia has been very good to me. I love Australia – I love the coastal communities, I love the people, I love the culture, I love that cross between Britain and America.
How do you think you will get on with the other celebrities?
I think I’ll be fine. If the Queen put up with me for 11 years and Diana for 10, I think my jungle camp mates can put up with me for a short amount of time.
What will be your biggest strength in the competition?
My biggest strength is having common sense. I once asked Diana why did you choose me and she said, “You have something the rest don’t have- common sense. You can put it all in its right perspective, in its right place.”
Are you planning on stirring up some trouble in the jungle?
Only if it’s completely against what I think is right. For instance, racism and homophobia. I don’t like bullies. I will stand up and say I believe you’re wrong, that’s your opinion, but I have a different opinion. I’m not afraid to speak out, I don’t think I will stir up trouble but I like fun and games.
What’s your best talent?
I’m told that I’m easy to get along with. I listen to people and find out what they are really interested in and go along that path. That’s what the Queen does.
Are you going to miss being kept up to date with news and the latest goss in the real world?
Yes, I’ll miss speculation building for the royal wedding and Kate’s new arrival. I’ll miss the Queen and Prince Phillip. I’m still very much attached to the Queen emotionally and I’m very fond of her. Being away from everything for a whole month, anything could happen. I would hate something to happen if I can’t be around.