Lockdown did not start out well for Julia Morris.
The co-host of I'm A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! gets honest as she tells TV WEEK about the early weeks in her Melbourne home with husband Dan Thomas and daughters Ruby, 14, and Sophie, 12.
"Those first six weeks, everyone was fighting," Julia remembers. "And then there was something, after that first six weeks, where, I guess, we just found a new way to live."
She says it "definitely wasn't The Partridge Family", but they started solving arguments more quickly.
"If we got any sort of storm-off, the girls would come back straight away and just go, 'OK, well, the reason I did that was because of this,' and I'm like, 'Yeah, right – totally get it.' It was amazing," Julia says.
She thinks that without COVID, she would have been so busy, she wouldn't have had time to notice things.
"I consider myself a great mum," Julia says.
"But I've become an even greater mum because I've been allowed to notice everybody's nuances: 'Oh, that's not a bad mood, that's when she's feeling sad.'"I definitely think COVID stopped us from having a teenage nightmare."
But before she starts sounding too positive, Julia adds that the past year has also been "completely brutal and tested us all to the nth degree".
She's been able to put a positive spin on it because she's learnt to put a positive spin on things.
"Over the years, having worked with a psychologist, I'm now able to – not all the time, but some of the time – turn some of those negative feelings around," she explains.
Julia, 52, discovered the value of a psychologist when she was going through menopause.
Having now broken through to the other side, she calls menopause "hardcore".
"It's like you're giving birth to yourself," she explains. "Oh my God – I was ready to stab someone. I recognised it and did something about it, which was to start speaking to a psychologist. Everyone needs one – it's the ultimate girlfriend."
There was something else that helped Julia stay positive in 2020: participating as Kitten on The Masked Singer.
"The Masked Singer came at a time when I really needed it," she says, adding that she "had a ball" performing, but was worried that people would recognise her voice.
She also felt the clues were "way too obvious", and didn't hesitate to tell the clue writers that.
"It was like they looked up Wikipedia and read them out. I'm like, 'Married in Vegas? Come on!' I sent the clues to Dan. I'm like, 'Mate, no-one's listening to me! I think they think I'm having an ego moment.'"
Julia was so keen to compete on The Masked Singer, she worked out for months beforehand to be in shape.
"I'd been working with a trainer outdoors – me, out in the park, seriously, doing a burpee! So I was quite ready for it, physically."
After being eliminated, Julia was set to give up on the workouts.
Then she realised it was only a short time until she'd be standing next to co-host Dr Chris Brown on I'm A Celebrity.
"I just thought, 'Oh my God – I can't be puffing in front of my beloved again in the jungle.'"
She admits she's "not really a fan" of exercise, but being fit for The Masked Singer taught her a lesson.
"The fitter I am going into these shows, the more fun I have, because I'm not super-sweaty," Julia says.
"I'm not that concerned with whatever size I am, but how fit my heart is, so that's what I've been working on."
Julia has always loved to sing, belting out "Holding Out For A Hero" at 17 on TV talent show New Faces before going on to a career in comedy.
But she has no plans for an album as a follow-up to The Masked Singer.
"I always whip out a song in my live shows, but there are so many beautiful singers in this country,"she says. "I'm not convinced there's room for me too."
What she really wants is to do more acting. She starred as Gemma in five seasons of the Nine Network comedy-drama House Husbands, but hasn't had any big roles since then.
"There have always been plans for more acting, there just haven't been any offers," she says. "Hopefully, there'll be more time for that in 2021."
She'd love to be cast as a villain.
"I think it's time I turned," she says with a laugh. "I would love to play a bad guy. Look, I'd love to play anything at this point. Still having a job is never lost on me."
For now, it's all about I'm A Celebrity, being shot in northern NSW. Julia says she and Chris, who are into their seventh season as co-hosts, have "great mutual respect". But when they're not working together, they do their own thing.
"We don't see each other for the rest of the year," she explains.
"We'll send the odd text every couple of months: 'What are you doing, babe? You all right?' Maybe that's what keeps it so fresh, too, that we're not in each other's pockets.
"I always think I'm quite an acquired taste, not unlike a medicine you have to have. He's just acquired that taste gently over the years."