I’m A Celebrity 2009: interview with Jimmy White

by Lisa McGarry


Professional snooker player Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White is planning on using his competitive personality to win I’m a Celebrity.

Jimmy says: “I’m obviously very competitive when I’m playing snooker so it is a competition so I will try and win, I will try and use a few strategies of, you know, staying composed. I shall be going in there to try and win it for sure.”

Jimmy has no idea how he’s going to cope with the great outdoors, though. When his six-year-old son wanted to camp overnight in the garden Jimmy went along with it but soon missed his home comforts.

He says: “It was just horrible – wet, cold, no TV. If it was a choice between a tent and a hotel I’d have a hotel every time.”

The closest he gets to going back to nature at home in Surrey is the local park. The idea of bugs and creepy-crawlies invading his personal space in the jungle makes him squeamish.

He says: “The worst thing is going to sleep and to think that things can start crawling over you. That terrifies me so I’ll have to face it when it happens.

“Creepy-crawlies, I’m not into that at all. I have fears and phobias of it all; spiders, snakes, rats, I’m terrified of them all. Someone put a snake round my neck once and I totally froze. So I’m not too sure about them. But it’s a team effort…it’s a challenge.”

Has travelling all over the world for tournaments prepared him for living with a bunch of strangers in unusual surroundings?

He says: “Not really…as snooker’s an individual sport you can always go to your room and get away from people….but obviously in the jungle I can’t do that. So, I will have to persevere and give people the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully they’ll give me the benefit of the doubt as well…everyone’s got to go in there knowing that they’re going to have all sorts of things thrown at them and you’ve got to try and be prepared to fight it.

“I’m more at home being an individual…because snooker is an individual game, but we do have team competitions… so with the jungle I’m looking at it as a team effort. I’m a fairly friendly guy, I take people at face value so hopefully they’ll take me the same.”

Jimmy knows food will be scarce and is taking tips from his girlfriend to prepare himself for going hungry. ”I love food. My girlfriend does a fast now and again, so a week before I’m going to fast and get used to eating less because apparently you get headaches and a bit light-headed. So I’m going to just face a little bit of that before I go in and see how I cope.”

He admits that going without his coffee in the morning could make him grumpy. “I’ve never really gone without my coffee and all that in the morning, so hopefully by doing this fast I will learn a bit from that.”

One thing he would not tolerate is anyone taking more than their fair share of food. “If I was to catch anybody stealing food or provisions or not doing their share, I think I’d have to say something to them. I’d find that the ultimate liberty, especially when you’re all in a camp together and I’d have to tell them, whoever it was, whether it was a pretty blonde or a boxer. I don’t have a lot of confrontation in my life, I do avoid it. But if people were to steal food I think I probably would find it very difficult to keep my mouth shut.”

Jimmy has experienced ups and downs in his career but remains passionate about snooker.

He says: “I’ve survived through my love for the game. I’ve gone off the boil quite a bit through different reasons in life and I’ve sort of nearly walked away, but I never have because I’ve always had the love for the game.

“I never abused anybody but myself. I did abuse the game a bit because I didn’t give it the respect sometimes. During tournaments I’d be drinking and gambling and when I was preparing for tournaments I would be doing the same thing, which was my own fault and I’ve had to pay the price for that because the talent I’ve been given and worked on I’ve not got the full potential from. But I live with that, you know, that’s not a problem. When I retire then it might be different. Then I might be a little bit bitter towards myself. But at the moment I’m still punching, I still love the game, so I’m still going for it.”

He is not sure how he will cope if there are long stretches in the camp when he has nothing to do. “That does worry me. I’m a very fidgety person, I have to be doing things. And the only time I sort of do nothing is when I’ve got a massive hangover. So I don’t know how I’m going to be with the boredom, I’ll have to find out.”

When it comes to the Bushtucker Trials Jimmy will approach them in the same way he would a professional snooker tournament. “I’ve won 10 ranking tournaments, 27 invitation tournaments – I’ve been doing it for 30 years. I’ll try and bring that sort of experience into the camp and be positive and treat it as a competition. To get further on in the competition you’ve got to sort of try and switch off and eat the bugs and do the trials because you’re helping your team.”

Jimmy explains what kinds of character traits he will struggle to cope with.“I don’t like ignorant people, I don’t like people who enjoy listening to themselves moan. I would find that very aggravating. If they’re moaning unnecessarily I will find that difficult to take. We’re all in there together, all for different reasons. I will try and support people and see how it goes.”

What is Jimmy going to miss while he is away? “I’ll miss my kids, my girlfriend, my dogs, but I’m going to miss snooker as well because I’m just starting to play well. I’m missing the UK Snooker Championships, hopefully someone can let me know the results. I’ve got the Masters coming up in January, so when I come out of the jungle hopefully I’ll be able to fit into my old suits.”

Can viewers expect to see Jimmy getting involved in the inevitable camp arguments? “Well I think I will try and calm people down, you know, I’m just going look at it that we’re all there, we’ve got to do the trials, we’ve all got to help each other to basically get the food and try and make the time as smooth as possible. So, no, I won’t be in control but I might be someone who can calm people down if they’re losing the plot. But I might be the one losing the plot, I don’t know … I think I’d step back and listen to both sides before I got busy.”

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!