If Julia Morris has learnt anything from her decades-long career – as well as her time in the jungle – it's that sometimes you just have to do whatever it takes to survive.
At 51, the comedian has seen it all and lived to tell the tale.
When TV WEEK caught up with Julia, she was in South Africa, deep into season six of I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!
Perhaps it was the magic of Africa, perhaps it was the jet lag, but we seem to have found the star in a reflective mood.
In this candid chat, Julia talks highs, lows, wins and losses, as well as why her body is a Spanx-free zone.
You teamed up with the lovely Dr Chris Brown again in South Africa for season six of I'm A Celeb. There's such a vibe between you – you can't fake that chemistry. Or can you?
I know! It's crazy. The first thing we did together was a bit I'd written for the Logies a few years ago. Without wanting to sound patronising, I met him and was explaining where I thought the comedy beats were. And he was very kindly nodding and smiling and going, "I got it." Then we just did it and I was amazed at his comedy timing.
Some big names took part in I'm A Celeb this year. Is it easier to attract people to the show now?
Definitely easier. They think they know what they're in for, even though they really don't. But in the end, I think the thing that gets them there is the experience: they have a feeling of rebuilding and replenishing their resilience and self-pride.
What moments on I'm A Celeb have gotten to you over the years?
When [cricket legend] Shane Warne held the spider will remain one of my favourite memories. If you put yourself in his shoes, how would you feel facing your worst phobia? But he did that for his team, his campmates. It was so impressive. That blew so many levels of my mind. It was so great to see that vulnerable side to him – and of other contestants as well.
If you were a campmate, what would you excel at and what would you struggle with?
I'd excel at patience – just being a parent helps you with that – but my patience would also see me undone, because as soon as my patience is tested, Mummy turns and loses it!
What do you love about the show?
I find the bitching fascinating – being nice to someone's face in camp and then bitching behind their back. We can't help it, can we? I told my daughters that everybody bitches about everybody, but the person to be wary of is the one bringing the information to you – that's the one I'd be concerned about. What's their agenda? It's the tattle-tale who's the real concern – that applies to girls in school, but in the jungle too.
What lies ahead for you when this season's I'm A Celeb wraps up?
I've given myself a mid-year treat the past couple of years: I take three months off. I'll do that again. I've got my "I'm Not Even Joking" stand-up tour around Australia in September.
The in-between time, I'm leaving a window open for a little more acting work, which I'm hoping to do more of this year. But for February, March and April, I'll just replenish myself, spend time with family, do the supermarket run. I like to stay at home with Dan and the ladies [daughters Ruby and Sophie], do school pick-ups.
You're based in Melbourne these days.
Yes. I need that time at home. I turn 52 in April and, over the last few years, I felt a bit like I was taking so much work, yet wasn't sure how much happier it made me, or if it made much difference financially or career-wise. But at the same time, I've never been one to think there's such a thing as work-life balance – for me, there's no such thing.
You've had a long and varied career. How do you feel about something like Sunday Night Takeaway not being the success you'd hoped?
I'm still sad. We were up against Married At First Sight and nothing could survive. They obliterated us. A show about a human sexual daisy chain – how can a sweet little family game show compete? But I don't complain – I know how lucky I am. One of my best friends lives in Melbourne, but in our early 20s we shared a bedsit in Paddington [in Sydney] and slept top-to-toe in my mum and dad's old queen-sized bed. We'd spent half the night watching the cockroaches. So I'm doing alright these days – it's all perspective.
We'd love you to go on a Gold Logie run – any plans to start a campaign?
Tom Gleeson played it beautifully last year. Me? I don't know. I've literally been to the psychologist about this. I've moved from anger and grief [about not winning Gold] into the next sphere, where it would be an honour just to be nominated. B
ut Dan always says to me, "Let cash be your Gold Logie." As long as I'm still working, that's my reward. I don't think I'll campaign hard.
Can you see yourself hosting I'm A Celeb for a year or two yet?
Absolutely. Did I mention I turn 52 in April? Please don't tell anyone! I want to cling on.
What have you learnt since cruising past the big 5-0?
Not to worry so much! One of the wardrobe girls [on the set] said one of the things they loved about me was that, "Julia Morris refuses to wear Spanx or any shapewear."
You can't breathe! It just comes out somewhere else and you end up with 15 boobs. Julia Morris is a Spanx-free zone. That's my greatest lesson!