Chrissie Swan’s career reboot spells success for Great Australian Spelling Bee
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.”
THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN SPELLING BEE
MONDAY AND TUESDAY, 7.30PM, TEN