I’m A Celebrity 2010: Profile of Lembit Opik

by Lisa McGarry

Lembit Opik

Age: 45

Date of birth: 2nd March 1965

Phobias: Letting the team down, facing a tarantula sitting on his face

Missing any special occasion: Yes, forced to postpone taking his mum on a Cunard voyage to celebrate her 70th birthday

Relationship status: Dating

Former Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik believes working in the House of Commons has provided him with the best possible training to cope in the jungle.

Lembit, who lost his seat for the constituency of Montgomeryshire in Wales in this year’s General Election, laughs as he reveals: “The best preparation I have had for this has been the House of Commons – which is a jungle without the trees!

“I don’t know which is harder – life in the cabinet or life in camp, but I will tell you when I get out.”

And he hopes that by going in the jungle, he will finally be given a vote of confidence by the viewers watching at home.

“I am competitive,” he reveals. ”There is no point going into a competition if you don’t aim to win. This isn’t an election, but it would be nice given what happened to me in the last General Election, to at long last win a vote. That would mean a lot to me. I am playing to win, and all I can do is my best. I will accept the public’s verdict.”

As a politician, you’d also expect Lembit to be at the forefront of any camp argument. Far from it, says the 45-year-old.

“I don’t like conflict,” he confides. “My behaviour is to solve conflict and I get quite agitated if I don’t succeed in that. I will think it is a failure of mine (if I don’t).

“I don’t tend to get angry that often. But the jungle is a highly stressed environment with not much food or sleep and there is nowhere to escape – so you will be tested. I am interested in whether I will keep my cool. I really hope so.”

He says his biggest fear is ‘letting the team down’. “The biggest pressure is not coming back with stars or not being able to pull my weight in camp,” adds Lembit. “When the going gets tough, can Lembit get going?”

Lembit says he will miss his kitchen the most. He adds: “I love cooking and I suspect a herb rack and freezer won’t be quite as well stocked as it is in my home in South London. I do enjoy cooking a lot and I am going to miss my kitchen.”

He admits his friends were slightly worried when they first found out he was going in the jungle. The politician, who speaks fluent English, Estonian and German, says his friends told him to try not to make a fool of himself.

“When my friends found out, they said “make sure you don’t mess it up!”

But his girlfriend has already told Lembit she will miss him terribly. It’s the longest period the couple have spent apart since they first started dating, he says.

“When I told her, she went quiet and thought about it for a while,” he reveals. “She said “So for how long won’t I see you then?’ It’s the longest we have been apart in months. We are never normally apart for a night and this is a new experience for us. It is a test for me and for her.”

Going in the jungle has also forced Lembit to postpone a trip of a lifetime he had been arranging for his mum to celebrate her 70th birthday.

Says Lembit: “I was going to take mum on a Cunard voyage for her 70th birthday, and I have had to postpone it. Hopefully she will forgive me. What I am doing instead couldn’t be more different though!”

But the ex Liberal Democrat MP, who has also appeared on the Celebrity Apprentice and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? in the past, insists going in the jungle is an experience he definitely did not want to miss out on.

“It’s a real honour to be given the chance to add this to my journey,” he adds. “I am not sure how I will react or what will happen, but I am sure I will learn something about myself and it will be one of the most memorable experiences of my life. To summarise what I feel like – I would say ‘anxious, uncertain and really curious to see what happens’.”

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!