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I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!

I'm A Celeb Exclusive! Natasha Exelby tells: "Talking about my depression was the most terrifying part "

TV WEEK caught up with Natasha after her exit from the South African jungle

By Tina Burke
Natasha Exelby became the 8th person eliminated from the jungle on I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in Sunday night's episode.
The dry-witted journalist was a favourite among other contestants, and became known for delivering hilarious roasts of host Dr Chris Brown, including calling him a "a fake doctor with a weird jaw" and saying "just go rescue a dog Chris" when he tried to chat to her during a particularly tough challenge.
Though her stark sense of humour was entertaining around camp, Natasha, 35, was also loved for her more serious moments.
From opening up about her experience with depression, to talking about the infamous time she was caught daydreaming during an ABC news bulletin, Natasha didn't shy away from speaking honestly in front of the cameras.
TV WEEK caught up with Natasha after her exit from the South African jungle, to find out all about her experience on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!.
Are you relieved to be out of the jungle, or sad you didn't get to stay until the end?
I'm still taking it all in to be honest! I got two hours sleep last night but it was so nice to be in an actual bed and have a hot shower. I turned my phone on for the first time in five weeks and it was like ping ping ping! I did a face-time with my mum and dad and I just completely lost it. It was very emotional, but it's pretty cool to be crying happy tears. Of course I would love to stay to the end but I went in with the expectation that I wouldn't last anywhere near as long as I did, so I was grateful for every day. It's such an amazing thing to be part of.
It seems like you had a lot of fun in the jungle, did you have a best friend in there? It'd have to be Justine right?
Yes absolutely, well picked there. Justine and I knew each other when we went in to the jungle and we have a few mutual friends. But now they're gonna have to take a side step to the bonds we've made. If I get married she's going to be a bridesmaid.
Was there anything you learned about yourself in the jungle that surprised you?
Probably not! A lot of the celebrities that came in, I didn't know a lot about, so I didn't have any preconceived ideas about them. I guess I just enjoyed finding out more and more about people, and the depth they have to them as well.
Is there anyone you didn't get along with in there? We've seen that Justin has ruffled a few feathers…
We did all get along very, very well actually. I think outside of Justine, everybody did irritate me at some point. And I strongly suspect that I irritated them too. Yes I think Justin is a complex cat but we still got along! We were just a bunch of misfits and we all just came together and used all of our different strengths and worked together really harmoniously. It shows that watching TV where people are getting along can be just as entertaining as when everyone is at each other's throats.
You definitely took on the role of 'jungle journo' on the show, did you enjoy getting to ask all the other campmates lots of questions?
Well I quite like that title as jungle journo, maybe I can make that a permanent thing. But yeah being in the camp 24/7 was basically just a journalist's picnic, having all of these interesting people to speak to and they had nowhere to hide. Yeah it was great asking people about their stories and getting to know them on a deeper level than just what their job title is. There were some pretty interesting people in there so it wasn't hard for me to think of a few questions to ask.
As well as asking a lot of questions of the other celebs, you also opened up a lot about your own life and in particular your experience with depression. Was it a conscious decision to talk about your experiences or was it more reactionary to the discussions you were having with people?
I thought a lot about it before I went in to the jungle, and I think I'm very fortunate that I'm at a place in my life where my depression is managed and under control. I went in to the jungle very scared of doing the tucker trial and any kind of height challenges, but I found that the most terrifying part of it was speaking about my journey with mental illness, because that's something that I've never done before and it's absolutely what took the most courage for me inside the camp. I'm glad that I did it and I feel so… I just feel so grateful that I was put in the jungle with a group of people that were so understanding. I felt like I was telling friends, and I believe I was.
It seems like it was quite a safe space for people, a lot of the contestants have opened up about their varied difficult experiences in their lives. Did you find it was cathartic for everyone in there?
I can't speak for other people as to whether they found it cathartic or not, but I know from my personal experience, I absolutely had a conversation with my psychiatrist before I went in to the jungle to get her advice about whether this was something I should be talking about, and her thing was that sometimes keeping a secret takes far more energy than being open and honest about it and it could actually be a cathartic experience. I've been out of the jungle less than 24 hours now but so far, so good. My family said they were proud of me and I have a lot of close friends who know my journey very well and they were incredibly supportive. I guess I'm very lucky that the viewers got to see a side of me that very few people have seen in my life before.
You mentioned before you were scared of the challenges, were you proud of how you did? Because you really held your own in all of them…
Oh thank you that's very sweet! I was, but I definitely wanted to do a tucker trial just to see if I could because when I did tell family that I was doing the show they were like 'okay but how are you going to go with the food?' and I was like I don't know, but I want to find out, because I love a challenge.
One of the things you did in some of the challenges was pass a few sassy comments to Dr Chris Brown, and fans were loving it...
Yeah I knew Chris before I went in to this so it was probably easier to project on to him! But you know, someone's gotta hold Chris accountable. Julia lets him get away with murder (laughs). With Chris it was all about getting through! I hadn't prepared those lines (laughs).
It was also great to see you back on our screens again! Can fans expect to see you on TV in the near future?
Look I'll definitely think about it, I've been lucky that my media consultancy has been going gangbusters since I first started about two years ago. But I'm happy to sort of dip in and out, I've always loved the comradery I've had with people in the newsroom and everyone on the network. I'm not sure, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. A lot the best things that have happened in my career are things that I never saw coming so who knows!
I mean you could return next year to host a segment where you help everyone craft insults for Chris?
Well I'm happy to do a guest appearance each year to make sure he's being held accountable (laughs).

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