I’m A Celebrity 2009: interview with Colin McAllister

by Lisa McGarry


Design guru Colin McAllister is dreading the boredom setting in once he is deprived of all his gadgets.

He says: “I might be bored, because I’m a 21st century guy. I rely on the telephone and television, my computer. We’re not going to have any of those things, which sounds fantastic but only if there’s something to replace them with. So as soon as I put all those technological things to one side I think, ‘Ok, I can sit and read a book’. But you don’t get a book in the jungle.”

He and partner Justin Ryan are the first celebrity couple to go into camp together. “Hopefully there’s a worth to that and the viewers won’t think, ‘Let’s split them up,’ because surely the experiment is about how a couple will actually behave and how they will interact with all the other people.

“Maybe there will be a degree of resentment from the others and that’s something we’ve thought about. We’re not the Waltons or The Osmonds – gushy-gushy and smiley-smiley. But we are a really happy couple, very tightly linked, and we do come across as being one entity. We have only one mobile phone. We don’t spend any time apart. So I hope we give the viewers a couple’s eye view.

“We are very different, we have different interests, do a lot of different things, so we always have stuff to talk about. Suddenly, I am going to see my partner in the jungle coping or not coping with lack of food and lack of communication. Justin is obsessed with Facebook. He loves it. He’s always checking his emails, or changing his status. The jungle is going to be like the Betty Ford clinic, where you dry out from the 21st century.

“Justin is the fussiest eater on the planet. I try to be brave with what I eat, always like to try different things, and nine times out of 10 I’m successful, but for some weird reason I do have a weak stomach so if I see a teabag in the sink sometimes I throw up if it looks icky. So the prospect of eating something that crawls … I think my head could do it, my heart could do it, but I don’t think my stomach could do it.

“We’ve been going to the gym more and cut back on the alcohol and hopefully all that’s going to hold us in good stead for our experience of going without. It’s completely different to cut down on drink knowing you can have a drink at the weekend, though. We’re trying to keep an eye on what we eat. Every time we get a bowl or a plate out we’re saying: ‘Do you think it’s as big as that? Could you eat that much rice? Do you like rice?’ I’m thinking about what a diet of rice and beans does to you. All those farting celebrities near a naked flame – do I really want to be there?

“We’re both a bit phobic about cleanliness. So hopefully we’ll be encouraging people to be as clean and tidy as possible so we’re not living in a pig sty.

We’ll always be looking to up the comfort stakes. We’re great homemakers whether we’re at home or abroad so I don’t see why the jungle should be any different. It could be the start of whole new design phase for Colin and Justin. We would be able to come back as organic, nature loving homemakers.”

Colin admits he is a bit of a daredevil on the quiet. “I’ve abseiled down the headquarters of the Whyte and Mackay. That was really, really frightening, standing on the edge of a skyscraper and suddenly you have to lean back into oblivion. I think it took me 20 minutes to get into position and the instructor probably still has bruises from where I wouldn’t let go of him.”

Colin is passionate about power boating and being on the water – even though he’s not a swimmer. “I don’t actually have any phobias, but my biggest fear is probably the crawly stuff. I can’t swim at all, all because of bad fashion. We didn’t have a lot of cash when I was growing up and you got swimming lessons at school. My auntie knitted me a pair of trunks. Wool and water do not mix. When you get out of the water they do fall down and show your bum. I think that’s when I became scarred.

“I go power boating in Devil’s Gorge in Niagara, I was speed boating in Mauritius. I really like being on the water but I can’t swim at all. I sink. I have a heavy aura.

“We have a pool in our apartment in Canada. I go in and splash about and do an hour of water aerobics. Justin says I can’t do it on my own. I will happily stand in my neck in water but I can’t swim to save myself. It seems to scare other people more.”

His pet hate in other people is selfishness. “I like people who can open up and have good conversations. I don’t like really thick people. I like people who have a passion for life and people who don’t take things for granted. Some are great, some aren’t, you can’t appeal to everyone all of the time so why try?

“I would always stand up for myself and for Justin. I think evil prevails when people say nothing. At the same time you can’t fight fire with fire – you can fight fire with water. I think I would always try and be a really good peacekeeper, just try and kind of communicate within the group. I’m a great listener and I will take in all the facts before I react. Friends would say, ‘You’re the quieter one’. I am the quieter one but I do get my own way a lot.

“Sometimes I can be a wee bit moody. This is going to be a real test to deprive yourself of everything you take for granted. You could either be terrified or embrace it. If we’re going to disconnect from society let’s do it with some Page three lovelies and WAGs.

“The worst thing about being in a kind of commune would be if someone was messy, you know, if there was someone who wasn’t pulling their weight, who was really lazy. I don’t know if I could cope with that

“I hope the people going in there are smart enough and comfortable enough in their own skin, being in the public eye. They’ll have had good press and bad press and know that you don’t die if someone writes something nasty about you, so hopefully they won’t be guarded.

“I think Justin will cope well and embrace the situation and the newness of it all. He’s quite into experiences, we both like that type of thing. He does have quite a short attention span. He may get bored and the novelty could wear off.

“It’s just his nocturnal habits … I’ll wake up and have no bedclothes over me as Justin has taken all the covers and is running round the room. Maybe having all the bugs around in the jungle will stop that.

“He snorts and grunts in the night. His mother talks about him ruining family holidays as a small child; they couldn’t do family rooms as he would keep everyone up. That potentially could annoy people.

“Next year, we’ll have been together for 25 years. We have an appreciation for life, we love our life, we love our jobs, we are lucky we get to travel and do things together. Maybe we’re like Mr and Mrs Smugsville.

“We always say the success to a long and lasting relationship is to never ever see your partner on the toilet. I think there’s obviously a preconception that we’re a bit of a closed shop because we are a unit but we’re really different and I think that will surprise people, that we’re not this creature – Colin and Justin.

“People maybe think we’re a bit more volatile than we probably are. They think we’re quite argumentative and bicker and actually nothing could be further from the truth.”

Lisa McGarry

Lisa has been watching reality TV for too long now. She won't do any housework unless 'Big Brother' announces it over the tannoy and everything she does has to be put to a public vote!