Sitting down with Kerri-Anne Kennerley a week before she was whisked away to South Africa, we’re quick to express our disbelief that the queen of Australian daytime TV is going on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!.
“Yes, well, I would have bet money on it that we wouldn’t be having this chat,” she laughs. “They’ve asked me every year for 12 years, and I was never going to do it, but timing is a beautiful thing,” she adds.
And that timing certainly came around quickly – just last November Woman’s Day sat down with the Australian TV legend and it was still, even then, a firm “no”. “People don’t need to see that side of me,” she said at the time.
And yet here we are, about to see that very raw, hungry and heavily sleep-deprived side the glamorous star promised she’d never lay bare.
So how in the hell did Ten manage to coerce her out of her million-dollar home in the well-heeled suburb of Double Bay, Sydney, and into the humid, creepy crawly infested South African jungle?
“Well, I had a couple of suggestions, which it would appear they agreed to,” she giggles tellingly. “Look, I’m not going in without makeup and my skincare. I wear 50+ sunscreen and I want a little blush or a little lippie. Nothing too over the top. I’m not going to go unnatural.”
Kerri-Anne, 69, also adds that given her two recent knee replacements, she’s not going to jeopardise her doctor’s work by jumping out of a helicopter or scaling the cliff face of a rocky mountain – not for any number of stars.
“My surgeon said, ‘Please don’t muck up my operations,’ because it does take a year-and-a-half to heal, so I can’t really afford to screw it up too much.”
As well as her “suggestions”, one would assume the money must be pretty good too – last year KAK also revealed she had been offered “a lot” of it to appear on the series – but when broached on a ballpark figure, KAK shut it down.
“I couldn’t possibly tell you!”
Out of all of the unpleasantness she’s about to be greeted with, KAK says she’s most nervous about the “boredom”.
“I’ve been glamping before, but I think this is a bit more basic, so that will be a challenge, too.”
But in terms of the famed Tucker Trials that the majority of Australia will no doubt be putting her up for each week, KAK shrugs it off.
“I’ve had my fair share of witchetty grubs and weird restaurants. So rice and beans – I can survive on that. I guess I’m sort of treating it like a boot camp and a spa,” she laughs.
Having interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment, KAK admits she isn’t nervous about seeing anyone in there, but does hope a certain actor makes an appearance. “George Clooney,” she laughs.
“But something makes me think he won’t make it.”
NOT HOLDING BACK
Having garnered more than her fair share of headlines in recent years, thanks to that stoush with Yumi Stynes on Studio 10, she understands that being miked up 24/7 could prove to be “dangerous”, but in no way will she be holding her tongue.
“God no, that’s just not me,” she says. “I’m very last century. But I think people have come to expect that from me.
“I’ve never tried to be anything. And the longevity in television that I’ve enjoyed, you can’t do it by faking it.”
After her stint on I’m A Celeb, which she predicts will last around a fortnight – “Two weeks on 800 calories a day will do me!” – don’t expect KAK to be back on screens again.
“Forget about television. I just want to go travelling,” she says.
However, we have heard that one before, haven’t we?
I’M A CELEBRITY… GET ME OUT OF HERE! Sunday to Thursday, 7.30pm, Ten