|David Emanuel: Jungle camper and all round nice man|
I'm not a big watcher of reality TV. I'm not into the X-Factor, or Strictly, or Celebrity Big Brother, or American Idol, Britain's Got Talent - anything like that. It's not that I haven't watched them - usually I watched one series in the past, then got bored. I couldn't see the attraction of the Great British Bakeoff, beyond being mildly amusing. I do watch The Apprentice, but not so religiously that I can't miss a single episode.
But then there's my November guilty secret. My name is Nappyvalleygirl and I'm addicted to I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.
I love I'm a Celebrity, and this year has been no exception. It might help that it's on at a particularly grey and gloomy time of year, I suppose; I seem to remember that when I watched the very first series, I had a stinking cold and the idea of being glued to the TV for three weeks was extremely appealing.
But what I really love is the way that all the "celebrities" (and I deliberately put that in quotation marks, because usually I've never heard of half of them), once they've been in the jungle for about a week and deprived of decent food, hot water and their dignity, lose their "celebrity" veneer and almost forget they're being filmed. Never mind the "bushtucker trials", it's fascinating to watch their real characters emerge as they subsist on a diet of rice and beans, wash in a stream and have to empty out the "dunny".
Who would have thought that previously not-very-famous boyband member Kian Egan would win this year, closely followed by rather camp wedding dress designer David Emanuel? I certainly wouldn't have had my money on those two at the beginning of the series, against TOWIE reality show star Joey Essex (not that I'd heard of him either, but apparently he's hugely popular) or gorgeous model Amy Willerton. But three weeks in the jungle revealed that Emanuel and Egan were the most down-to-earth, lovely, helpful people in camp. And so the public voted for them.
I'm A Celeb has also got me through some difficult times. In 2006, when I was pregnant with Littleboy 2 and banged up in St Thomas's Hospital, not even allowed to leave the ward, it was a lifesaver. I watched it every night on my bedside screen - it was literally an escape from the fact that I was trapped in hospital away from my husband and 17 month old baby for a whole month, sharing a room with three other women and worrying about my baby being born prematurely. Maybe it wasn't even a coincidence that Littleboy 2 was finally delivered just a few days after the final episode. Last year, when the onset of my mystery illness was making me deeply anxious and I felt as if my world was falling apart, it was the one thing I looked forward to all day.
These experiences mean that however mindless the series might be, I will always have a fondness for Ant and Dec (although I do hope they get sent to the jungle themselves one day). One thing I've never done is voted (except once, in the infancy of reality TV, for Will Young on Pop Idol). I try to restrict myself just to watching. At least I can keep one aspect of my dignity intact.
But I reckon everyone has their reality TV guilty secret. The Doctor's uncle, an eminent left wing academic, loves watching Strictly, while other serious-seeming friends of mine seemed obsessed with the Bakeoff. In America, otherwise sensible working Moms got all giggly over The Bachelorette and the Real Housewives series.
So go on, then, what's yours? Or are you so admirable you eschew them all?