Jun­gle fever

Ju­lia Mor­ris and Chris Brown are ready to bring some stars back from the show­biz wilder­ness, writes

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - NEWS - SHAN­NON MOL­LOY

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

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