I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! hosts Robert Irwin and Julia Morris talk celebrities, conservation and a new legacy

‘We’re forging a new path.'
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It’s not every day you have the power to slap together a bunch of celebrities in the jungle and force them to eat antelope testicles or leap off a towering cliff. But while it’s his first time co-hosting I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! Australia, Robert Irwin is no stranger to the South African jungle.

“I was lucky enough to go there when I was about 10 and got to see it first-hand,” Robert, 20, tells TV WEEK. “I was wide-eyed coming out of there, thinking, ‘Wow, this is actually really serious. These guys [the celebrities] are for real.’”

Co-host Julia Morris, 55, agrees that the elaborate and sometimes hilarious challenges celebrities participate in to win $100,000 for their chosen charity are “no joke”. 

“People think the celebrities can just step off ‘set’ and grab a lemonade whenever they want,” the comedian and mother-of-two says. “That’s absolutely not the case – we leave them in there.” 

“The lemonade is reserved for us,” Robert adds with a laugh. 

This season will be Julia’s first without Dr Chris Brown as her co-host since his departure for Channel Seven. But Robert, son of the late wildlife warrior Steve Irwin, is as passionate about conservation as his predecessor was. We get up close and personal with the new hosting duo…

How do you feel about becoming a part of the I’m A Celeb legacy?

Robert: I have such incredible respect for Chris and Julia and what this show has done over the years. It’s very humbling, as this show means so much to Australian audiences. My life has been built around continuing a legacy, so I’m excited to be part of this one. It’s important to me to push my mission of conservation. 

Julia: My beloved doctor was super-thrilled about the legacy he built around the extra interest in animals, because when we first started, we made it different from the UK version, which doesn’t necessarily talk much about the animals and the relationship to the land we’re on. Chris really put his heart and soul into that. For that now to be handed to someone who knows what they’re talking about, I think Chris can feel a great sense of calm in his heart. 

Robert, having carried on your father’s legacy with your family for so long, what will it be like having this experience on your own? 

R: It’s very exciting. Most of what we do, my family just end up tagging along –we’re a united front. I’m forging a new path. I’m continuing my father’s legacy, but in a new way. It’s been an honour to carry on in the footsteps of someone who truly gave everything to make the world a better place with a bunch of new and passionate people and to bring my family along for the ride. 

J: We only got Robert to get to Terri [his mum]. 

How would you fare as a contestant? 

J: I’d turn really early in the piece – I’d turn on everyone. 

R: I think it would be fun – some of it. But the food? No way, that’s enough to make me not want to be one. 

Do you think some of the more precious celebrities will surprise us this year? 

J: Every one of those celebrities will surprise us. We [usually] see the marketable image the person wants to sell us, certainly in show business. [But]when you get to see the real them and how they feel about being hungry and respond to the other contestants, some people will be pests and others will be legends. I want to see their mettle and how they respond to being in the jungle. I want to know about them – I don’t want to see them fighting with someone about stupid politics. 

R: I agree, and that’s the joy of the show – it’s not about pitting people against each other, it’s about watching how people can unify in adversity. Everyone there is not only fighting to get a meal, but fighting for their charity. That’s what’s driving every one of those celebrities, from different walks of life, who have a cause they stand by firmly. They’re willing to put themselves in harm’s way for the greater good. That’s why I’m so excited to be a part of this show – it’s wonderful and uplifting. Plus, it’s the biggest hoot! 

What has been the most iconic scene in I’m A Celeb history you’ve witnessed? 

J: Jacqui Lambie [the outspoken Australian politician] getting rolled by the massive ball [in 2019]. She had an egg on her head like a haematoma – it looked as if she had a papier-mâché third eye built into her forehead. But it’s entertaining to see dramatic walkouts by people you thought were going to be really strong. And then there are those who you aren’t sure how they’ll go, but who just take to it. The contestants who seem to do best are the ones who let the experience flow over them instead of trying to control it. You have the ones who question the process, ‘Are you trying to make us paranoid? We’re not eating, what’s going to happen to us? Are they doing this on purpose?’

R: Coming from my perspective as an audience member, it’s interesting to see what makes a winner. What is the King or Queen of the jungle like? What attributes do you need? We were hanging out with [celebrity chef] Miguel Maestre [who won in 2020] and it was interesting to learn that there’s a lot of strategy to winning, but also a lot of rolling with the punches.

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