Denise Drysdale: “I was determined that I would just go in there and do it”

Entering the jungle late may have put Denise Drysdale behind the 8 ball but she remains very proud of surviving camp life for 10 days.

“Bloody fabulous,” is how Denise Drysdale is feeling after departing the camp for I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

Yes she’s happy -even relieved to be out- and who can blame her? But she’s also very proud thanks for what she achieved.

At 75 years old, Drysdale is the eldest contestant to ever set foot in camp with its gruelling conditions designed to test pampered stars for Reality TV cameras.

“They give you oats for breakfast. Can’t stand them. Never gonna do an Uncle Toby’s bloody commercial,” she told TV Tonight.

“But then beans and rice for dinner. And then it’s like get the stars from the challenge they give you a meal. I’ve never eaten better. I’m the only person that’s come out of the jungle putting on weight!

“I was determined that I would just go in there and do it. And I did and I’m very happy and proud of myself for doing it. I didn’t have any extras or anything. So that was pretty good.”

Drysdale has been courted by the 10 show for years, but finally relented in 2024.

“I really didn’t want to be away from home for a long length of time, like five weeks. Then they came back and said I could come in a week later, which I did. Which I think in retrospect, put me behind the eight ball with the people in there. But that’s ok, I got through that.”

All up she lasted 10 days, but denies she was contracted to a short run.

“Nup. Promise. ‘Kid’s life, grandchildren.’ No, there was nothing like that in me going in.”

‘Kid’s life’ is shorthand that she and TV icon Ernie Sigley would use to indicate they were not lying to one another, given the amount of pranking that went on in the ’70s and ’80s.

She also denies she was guaranteed exclusion from the toughest challenges, but some participants over the years have been kept out of trials for medical and safety reasons.

“I don’t think it was a guarantee. You’ve got to remember I’d gone through that Holey Moley episode. So they weren’t going to electrocute me. If I was doing this show 20 years ago I’d be out there, up there, dropping left right and centre, but I can’t do it now. So when they took me on they knew all about what my capabilities were,” she explains.

“Those boots made me feel like an invalid. I’m walking around in these things. They weigh about a kilogramme each!

“But they weren’t going to put me in a situation where I was going to hurt myself.”

Drysdale admits to enjoying -and not enjoying- elements of the show but hasn’t seen what was edited or went to air in Australia.

“Remember that Channel 10 has a chance to put to air whatever they want. I don’t know what they were doing. I haven’t seen the show. So you’ve seen more than I have,” she continues.

“I’m an only child so I’m not gonna to cry, ‘Poor me!’ But 11 other people in a camp in really small confines was really hard. And let me tell you, those people in there are strong. I’ve never met stronger women. They’ve done amazing things in their lives. And then you get the blokes. There’s so many people to get on with and to learn to live with. That’s hard.”

Amongst the elements that tested her, sleep, food and showering.

“When they said it’s an open shower. I thought, ‘It might have three sides.’ But no, it’s in a semicircle and there’s a camera directly aimed at your bum when you’re washing. So that was the end of me. I went to the loo and had an APC: armpits and crotch!”

Yet she also forged an unexpected friendship with 26 year old Love Island hunk, Callum Hole. It was a British-Australian generation gap mateship, which surprised them both.

“I just had so much fun with Callum. He’d say ‘What’s a dag?’ So I’d explain about the bit they cut off sheep. I said ‘I’ve got a mouth like the bottom of a cocky’s cage.’ He’d ask, ‘What’s a cocky?’

“I’m telling you, he’s a very lovely person. He’s got great thoughts about his parents and how he’s been brought up. He’s livin’ the life of course, but he’s just a really nice person underneath all the persona.”

Responding to some press stories which circulated during her time away, Drysdale denies any long-held feud with the show’s Julia Morris -both worked on In Melbourne Tonight hosted by Frankie J. Holden in 1996.

“I don’t know where that’s come from. That’s utter rubbish. We did IMT, I don’t know how many years ago. Julia did a segment and I did a segment, I think it was when she was first coming into telly. Then she went overseas and did all these courses. I’ve got great respect for her. She really honed her craft.”

Recalling Morris’ appearance on a Canadian TV show, she added, “She did one joke and it was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. She had obviously gone away and learned her craft and that takes a lot. Nothing I’ve ever done.”

Drysdale is now looking forward to returning home to family on the Gold Coast.

“I really missed the family. I couldn’t believe how much not talking to them. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m getting older. Because I’ve been away many times but I just really missed them.”

Now with a CV including I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Holey Moley, Celebrity Splash, does she see herself doing any more Reality TV?

Not a chance, given her senior years.

But then she quips, “Let’s put it this way, if the money’s right I’ll do anything!”

5 Responses

  1. Were we watching the same show? She seemed to be miserable the entire time and barely tried in the one eating trial. Let’s hope she got a decent pay packet.

Leave a Reply