I’m A Celebrity winner is a first
CASEY Donovan has been crowned the queen of the jungle, adding the I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! title to her 2004 victory on Australian Idol.
In an emotional finale, Donovan said the victory had given her self-confidence as an adult performer and permission "to be me."
"From Idol to now, that is all I've been treated like, is a kid. In the outside world I run from problems, I run from stress, I run from things. I just retreat. In here it has just been so difficult to not escape," said Donovan, who we revealed in January was a Sydney Uber driver.
To the finale's runners-up, she said: "I think I've adapted to this jungle. I wish I could take your calmness (Dane) and take that with me and your bright sparkly smile (Nat)."
After becoming a household name at the age of 16, winning the 2004 season of Idol, she was signed but quickly dropped by Sony Music because, Donovan said: "they didn't know where to put me".
"It has taken a long time for me to be (happy). I've found confidence within myself. I've learnt how to smile. I've learnt how to talk. I've learnt how to take it easy. I've learnt how to just try and enjoy life for what it is. I feel like I am at the place in my life now...almost 29 and 13 years in this business, I've definitely got to see a lot and experience a lot and there is no place I'd rather be."
Overcoming severe anxiety has been a big thing for Donovan in the jungle, starting with climbing out of a helicopter on the first day six weeks ago.
Since then, she's taken part in numerous Tucker Trials, eating the unimaginable.
"I think the biggest lesson I've learnt in here is to challenge myself more, to try and take more chances and risks and to push myself out of my comfort zone," she said.
Earlier in the Channel Ten series, Donovan spoke of the debilitating anxiety that saw her hospitalised three times in 2016.
"It was pretty horrible, it almost stopped me. I thought I was having a heart attack," she said.
"Anxiety kind of hit me in 2015 and then last year it was horrible. I think I just buried so many things in my life that I think in the last few years I couldn't keep pushing it down, it actually had to come out. It is good to talk about it and just know that you are going to be okay, which is the hardest thing to say to yourself when you are going through something like that."
Bassingthwaite was the first of the finale trio to be eliminated tonight.
I've had a good time in here, I've learnt a lot about myself and hopefully that has come across," Bassingthwaighte said.
"I feel like I've been myself. Maybe I've been a little bit of an idiot too, which I am a bit nervous about watching."
Before entering the jungle, the mother of three told News Corp Australia her biggest challenge would be being away from her husband Cameron McGlinchey and their kids, Harper and Hendrix.
"I didn't know if I could do it, the main reason being away from my kids," she said. "But then when I weighed it up, I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to find that clarity that I've been talking about and have that space and just who gets to be able to do this so in the end I felt like someone was telling me I should do it, almost like I felt guided."
Fotrmer AFL player Brendan Fevola won in March last year after the inaugural winner, English cricketer Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff.
* The journalist is in South Africa as a guest of Channel Ten