I’m a Celebrity 2009: interview with Justin Ryan

by Lisa McGarry


Justin Ryan, one half of the TV duo famous for creating stunning interiors, definitely has misgivings about a jungle lifestyle where luxury is non-existent. But rather than resign himself to basic conditions he and partner Colin McAllister will be going all-out to spruce up the camp with some unusual design innovations.

He says: “We’re going to do absolutely everything in our power to make ourselves and our jungle camp-mates as comfortable as possible. We are going to split the designer atom to make sure that this is a fun experience for everybody.

“I imagine we’ll be weaving all types of basket work, creating gorgeous throws and blankets from grass and special reeds, and I shall be diving into the lagoon and plucking out cuttlefish and making baskets from them as well as table ornaments. I shall be catching wild bees and using of every drop of honey and wax to make scented candles, and I’ll be making the jungle smell, look and taste that little bit more gorgeous.”

He admitted the idea of camping is an alien experience. “My idea of camping is a four star hotel. Anything below five star deluxe is roughing it so being in the jungle is going to be very hard.

“I think it’s got to be an advantage for me to have Colin, someone I can go to. However, that could backfire as I don’t know what he and I will do when we get in there. We’re going to find out new sides of each other that we didn’t know existed. Are we going to have arguments? Are people going to have to stop us arguing? Who knows? We simply don’t know.

“I am good with people, a good ‘people person’, and I really enjoy making new friends. But I am also very aware that a lot of those friends that you rush to make are the ones that finish very quickly. So I am more about getting to know people in the long run, getting to know people better, before making judgements. “I don’t make any rash or snap decisions. I’d never be as shallow as to say I love someone or hate them as soon as I meet them.

“I don’t like people who are selfish, people who are only interested in their own achievements, I love team players. For us it’s all about team work, it’s all about coming together and hopefully achieving as much as we possibly can as part of a team.

“I’m going to work my fingers to the bone and make sure that I’m part of a team that works really hard. I won’t have time for any slackers whatsoever, so if there’s a really famous sporting celebrity in there and they’re completely lazy or only interested in achieving self gain, then they’re the kind of people I’m going to push to one side. In my world there’s no time for passengers, only drivers.

“There’s no time for grumbling, unless there’s something seriously wrong with you or your world is really falling apart. But if you’re going to grumble because your shirt’s too tight or you don’t have lipstick or your silicone boobs have gone flat in the heat then we’re going to be having big problems. If, however, there’s somebody utterly fantastic who happens to be an old page three model from the Seventies who wants to make an effort, to have fun and be part of a team – best friend.”

If there are the usual camp fall-outs Justin will definitely wade in. “Oh I would absolutely get involved. I’ve always been lucky as I consider myself confident and I can cope well in an argument. We are much more into loving rather than fighting – we’ve so mellowed in our older age. If someone was annoying me I would try to talk to them in a creative or non-aggressive way. I wouldn’t go up and scream and shout.”

Justin is hoping the jungle experience will help him to discover more about himself. “I hope I don’t find out anything I don’t like. I am looking forward to finding out if I can detach from the outside world. I live my life attached to my phone, a laptop, a blackberry – I am attached to communications at all times. I am looking forward to taking myself out of that and being at one with nature.

“Taking big risks is completely and utterly new for me. Colin has abseiled down a building but I haven’t done anything. I’ve never abseiled, never bungee jumped, never jumped out of a flying aeroplane, but I see those things as really exciting so I would say to you, ‘Chuck me out of a plane, chuck me down to the bottom of the sea, chuck me off the side of a mountain on an elastic band’.”

The prospect of facing a bush tucker feast comprising bugs and other edible nasties does not worry him in the least. I am not remotely bothered about that. I will put anything in my mouth. I don’t want to eat a crocodile anus or a pig scrotum, no thank you, but I will do it. I want to make sure that we have the chance of feeding the rest of the camp.”

The pair has been doing some preparation before they head into the rainforest. “The big thing is going to be hunger because I am in a perpetual state of famine from the minute I wake up to the minute I to go bed. I’m always, always, always hungry.

“To suddenly find myself in a world where I’m denied things and told that for breakfast I’m having a kangaroo scrotum in a testicle just is not really the kind of thing that excites me on a daily basis.

“Colin will probably tell you that I’ll be grumpy, I’ll get tired, I’ll be moany, and I might even become a bit introverted. I’m going to try and make the very best of being denied all the things that make me who I am. But damn it I’ll be hungry.

“If there was a limited amount of food and a limited set of resources I would always give it to Colin. I would always, always defer to Colin. If he was hungry I would feed him. If he was cold I’d give him my blanket. If he was thirsty I would give him my water.”

He and Colin are usually inseparable but they may be split up if one is voted out of the jungle before the other. “The fact of the matter is one will be voted out before the other – who knows which way round it will be? I firmly believe we will cope. It will be unusual because we haven’t spent time apart before. Absence makes the heart grow fonder perhaps?”

As for being on camera 24 hours a day he will have to wait and see how he copes.

He says: “I have no idea how I’ll cope. All I want to do is go in there and be a good person who is good with other people. I don’t have any agenda or game plan. I simply want to have fun doing it.”

He does have at least one habit he suspects will be a problem for his camp-mates. “I grunt and I do it on a loop when I’m sleeping. I also sleepwalk and have a lot of dreams about flying insects which involve me running around screaming. Be scared, because the grunting is awful. I mean it’s 6.5 on the Richter Scale stuff, it’ll terrify you, it’ll terrify the viewers, and it’ll probably make me very unpopular in the camp because I will wake everybody up.”

He hopes the show will give viewers a chance to see what he and Colin are really like.

He says: “We’ve always been seen as this pair of loud, over-the-top designers from Scotland, who run in shouting and demanding everything is perfect. We are real perfectionists. When we get animated it’s because we want the best for our home owners. I think this will show people we are really ‘together,’ quite clever and friendly, reliable, honest, hard working – and team players. We are not selfish at all.”

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!