Julia Morris and Chris Brown are ready to bring some stars back from the showbiz wilderness, writes
WHEN they first met backstage at the Logies in 2013, the connection between comedian and actress Julia Morris and TV vet Chris Brown was instant.
They found a natural rhythm and ability to bounce off each other that normally takes presenting pairs years to find.
So when Morris heard a whisper the chiselled Bondi-dwelling presenter had been
tapped to host I’m A Celebrity
... Get Me Out Of Here! she started lobbying executives at Channel Ten.
“I pulled out all the stops to try to make it happen for me,” Morris said. “I hunted it down, just like I’m going to hunt Chris down in Africa.”
Part of their schtick is Morris’ hammed-up crush on Brown, which he seems to relish with a mix of good humour and faux terror.
“For me, I’ve had the good fortune to have worked with Julia before and we’ve always had this funny little spark – there’s something that goes on when the two of us are together,” Brown said.
Added Morris: “Yeah, it’s called spooning.”
In reality, they’re both loved up – she with longtime husband Dan Thomas, with whom she has two daughters, while Brown is dating Home and Away actress Kassandra Clementi.
But what they have is like a work marriage, and when the cameras start rolling in the South African jungle, they’ll need each other to lean on.
“Five nights a week of live television from the other side of the world – I’ve had 75 years in the business and I’ve never had an experience like this,” Morris joked.
The much-anticipated series sees 10 celebrities dropped into a makeshift camp on the fringe of Kruger National Park, where they must survive on bare essentials and without the creature comforts to which they’re accustomed.
The last one standing will win a stack of cash for their nominated charity. If the challenges, mind games and dangers of the wild get too much, the stars can exit by screaming: “I’m a celebrity – get me out of here!”
Part of the appeal of the opportunity for Morris – apart from getting up close and personal with Brown – is her obsession with the successful format.
“I’m a really big fan of the UK version of the show. I actively cancel stuff to stay home and watch it.
“Now I get to be part of the fun. It’s going to be interesting – Chris and I know a few of the celebrities personally. That interaction will be very different to the normal showbusiness air kisses and champagne.”
She insisted a diverse
mix of personalities would make for good TV, as well as what the producers had in store for them.
Brown is equally excited about the opportunity, if not a little bit envious he won’t be roughing it with the jungle campers.
“Part of me is jealous of the experience they’re going to have,” he said. “I’d love to get in and prove myself. It’s the bloke in me – a huntergatherer thing maybe. “I want to get my own food, be the guy people can depend on. Whether or not I’d fold under the pressure after a week, I’m not sure.”
Part of his co-hosting role will be bringing his vet experience to the table and lending some advice to the celebs.
“If there are baboons tearing through the camp or giant spiders harassing the stars, maybe I can help guide them through with advice,” he said.
A perk of the job for Brown is the chance to spend some time with the local wildlife – something he has done several times in the past.
“I was doing some work with zebras in northern Kenya last year and we were camping out in the wild and we could hear hyenas sniffing through the tent at night,” he said.
Added Morris: “That was not a hyena – I was there, that was me.” For Morris’ part, she wouldn’t put herself in the celebrity campers’ places for all the money in the world. A comfortable hotel bed and room service are more her style. “When we’re done on set, I get to retire to the infinity pool at the resort for one or two gin-and-tonics as the sun goes down, then it’s sleepy time. It feels a bit like a holiday, really.”
And she’s more than ready for the challenges of the wild: “I’ve had a spray tan so I’m completely prepared for whatever Africa throws at me.”
I’M A CELEBRITY … GET ME OUT OF HERE!
PREMIERES TONIGHT, 6.30PM, TEN