Chrissie Swan’s ca­reer re­boot spells suc­cess for Great Aus­tralian Spell­ing Bee

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

LIFE af­ter I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! is pan­ning out just as Chrissie Swan hoped. Stuck in the South African jun­gle, she had plenty of time to pon­der ma­jor life changes.

“It be­comes a sweeter and sweeter mem­ory the fur­ther I get away from it,” she says of the six-week stint.

“It did take a while to wash off the smell of the jun­gle, though.

“Of all the things we had to live with­out, I never got over miss­ing my kids, and I never got over miss­ing cof­fee.”

At a loose end af­ter be­ing dumped from her suc­cess­ful Mix FM ra­dio show last year, worka­holic Swan’s first pri­or­ity was to spend more time with her three chil­dren.

“It worked out ex­actly as I wanted, and it’s just been beau­ti­ful,” she says.

“(It’s the least) busy I have been since they were born.”

Swan’s jun­gle bestie was Joel Creasey, and the pair formed a bond that crossed into the real world. In a shared of­fice space, they’re hatch­ing plans to work to­gether.

“We’ll def­i­nitely be do­ing some­thing. We’ve been pitch­ing [ideas] and a lot of ideas have been com­ing in to us. We’re very lucky at the mo­ment,” she says.

Along with rel­ish­ing more fam­ily time, Swan’s new role as co-host of The Great

Aus­tralian Spell­ing Bee sees her be­come “naughty aunty” to 52 of Aus­tralia’s bright­est spell­ers, aged eight to 13.

De­scribed as the ul­ti­mate show­down be­tween lit­tle kids and big words, the show is fronted by Grant Denyer, while Swan sup­ports the kids and their par­ents back­stage.

Denyer says she is the per­fect per­son to en­sure the kids have fun while com­pet­ing.

“This is a woman who threw her knee out on set be­cause she was walk­ing like a pen­guin to make kids laugh,” he says.

Ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Rick Maier says Swan was cho­sen be­cause she is on the same wave­length as the kids. “We were keen to find some­one who could sin­cerely share the ex­pe­ri­ence with the par­ents and guardians. Chrissie has gen­uine em­pa­thy and has done a bril­liant job,” he says. These days, so-called “child cen­tred par­ent­ing” has seen a shift away from com­pet­i­tive think­ing. Ev­ery kid gets a prize in Pass-the-Par­cel. At sports car­ni­vals, ev­ery­one gets a par­tic­i­pa­tion rib­bon. But a spell­ing bee can nec­es­sar­ily only have only one win­ner, which Swan says, is the way it should be. “It’s old school in that way,” she says. “It’s what we grew up with – you have a go. They un­der­stood that some­times some­one will go home.”

She is con­scious kids can be dis­ap­pointed, some­thing the show is care­ful not to ex­ploit. “I was wor­ried about that,” Swan says. “Kids are pretty cool with that sort of stuff, to be hon­est. I think adults worry about it more than the kids do.”



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