Russell Watson has revealed he almost pulled out of a trial on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! because it reminded him of ‘petrifying’ MRI scans that he had to undergo while being treated for brain tumours.
On Tuesday evening, tenor Russell and EastEnders star Jessica Plummer became the next two contestants to be eliminated from the ITV competition.
The day before, Russell, 54, took part in the Rancid Rotisserie trial, which involved him being rotated on a raft in a large container of batter while having to answer questions on general knowledge.
While one can imagine the trial wasn’t particularly pleasant to take part in, Russell has shared that he very nearly said that he couldn’t do it at all, as it reminded him too much of having an MRI scan.
The singer was treated for brain tumours in 2006 and 2007 and is now in recovery, which involves taking life-saving medication on a daily basis.
‘The trial that I did, the Rancid Rotisserie, as it was aptly called, that – I nearly pulled out of that, I nearly didn’t do that,’ he said.
Recollecting how the set-up of the challenge made him immediately think of an MRI scan, he said: ‘I’m petrified of MRI scanners, because I kind of associate them with bad news.’
Russell recalled that before the trial began, he was lying on his back with a light shining overhead, which made him feel like he was going into a scanner.
‘So I started to feel a bit panicky, and then they started to strap me in. The guy said, ‘I’m just going to strap you in now Russell,’ and as soon as he said that I thought, ‘Oh my god, oh my god,’ and I was so close to saying I can’t do this,’ he said.
However, following his moment of panic, Russell experienced a ‘switch’ and thought to himself: ‘No, I can do this. And I’m going to do it. That’s what I’m here for. I’m here to face my demons. I’m here to try to prove to myself that I can actually do this.’
Having taken six years to agree to take part in the series, Russell explained that he had ‘doubts’ about whether or not he would be able to participate because of the daily medication he has to take..
‘I have to take a lot of medication in the morning to kickstart my body, because I don’t produce hormones naturally so I have to inject growth hormones, I have to take testosterone as a gel, I take hydrocortisone tablets – it’s the body’s stress hormone. If I don’t take those, you know within two or three days I’d be dead,’ he said.
The amount of food he would consume during his stay at Gwrych Castle in Wales was also a worry, he noted, as he was eating just a fifth of his usual calorie intake.
‘I got through it,’ he stated. ‘I feel really proud of myself actually. I’ve come out and I’ve done myself proud, my family’s proud of me, I just feel like I can’t ask for more than that.’
Russell added that if he is asked, he’s ‘happy’ to discuss his experience of being treated for brain tumours.
He recollected how on occasions when he has spoken out about his experience in the past, he has received messages from people who have been through similar situations who say that he’s ‘inspired’ them.
‘When you get comments like that, it makes me feel like I shouldn’t stop talking about it, even though sometimes I personally feel like what happened to me, my illness, kind of defines me in a way,’ he said.
‘You know, ‘Oh he’s the bloke that had…’ rather than, ‘He’s the guy that sings.’ So I won’t bring it up unless I’m asked, but if I am asked, I’m happy to talk about it and tell people what the experience was.’
I’m A Celebrity returns tomorrow night at 9pm on ITV.