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Dame Arlene Phillips: I joined I’m A Celebrity to get out of my comfort zone

Arlene Phillips (ITV/PA)
Arlene Phillips (ITV/PA)

Dame Arlene Phillips has said she joined I’m A Celebrity to get out of her “comfort zone”, but admitted she is weaker now and is prepared to share her food if she cannot complete a challenge.

At 78, the former Strictly Come Dancing judge will be the oldest contestant to take part in the show, but explained that she was unfazed by the title as she was used to it.

The professional dancer will swap the dancefloor for basecamp as the show returns to Gwrych Castle near Abergele in North Wales.

Phillips explained that for the first time in 10 years she had some free time which is what changed her mind to seriously consider joining the programme.

She said: “I thought, firstly, I very much want to do lots of different things before I die, and often it’s things that are out of my comfort zone.

“I’ve done a lot of things I never thought I could do or would do.

“Who knows what’s going to happen? But I suddenly thought well, why not? I admire so many people that go on this show. I just think, ‘How do they do it? Where do they find that strength? What place do they put themselves in to go and do it?’

“And I just thought, ‘Well, that’s the one thing you’ve not done in your life, had a spider crawl over your hand. Why not?’”

Discussing taking on the role of oldest ever contestant, she said: “I always seem to be the oldest of everything.

“When I had my daughter, (they said) ‘Oh, you’re a geriatric mother, what are we gonna do? 47, Oh my goodness.’ Yep, 47, oh dear.

“Everything I do, I’m always the oldest. So, I’m used to that.”

The dancer and choreographer noted that she is “definitely weaker” than she was but will not let that deter her during the show, and feels she will bring her “mothering instinct” to the camp.

Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021
The dancer and choreographer is the oldest contestant in the series (Ian West/PA)

She added: “Whatever I can do, I will try to do and really, if I can’t, I’m going to have to say, ‘You know what, guys? I will give up my food for the next two or three days OK? Just share it out’.

“There’s only so much everybody can do. And I’ve always been hopefully trying to reach out to those that can’t. Those that can speed ahead in life; those that can’t often need a hand. So, I won’t be ashamed to say that”.

Dame Arlene was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours this year for services to dance and charity, having first found fame when she created the provocative dance group Hot Gossip in 1974.

She has also choreographed for some of the West End and Broadway’s biggest shows, including Grease, Starlight Express, We Will Rock You, The Wizard Of Oz, Sound Of Music, Saturday Night Fever and Flashdance.

I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! launches on Sunday at 9pm on ITV.

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