I’m a Star…I Need to Get Out of Here! Tony Bellew, the show’s star, has confessed that he was on the verge of leaving after his grandmother died just days before entering the jungle.
After weeks of speculation, the retired boxer has been revealed as one of the camp’s latecomers, joining former jockey Frankie Dettori.
However, Tony revealed over the weekend that his beloved nan had died at the age of 97, the day after he signed the contract for the reality series.
On Saturday, the former Cruiserweight World champion sent a poignant homage on social media.
He posted a series of images of them together on Instagram, ‘Goodnight Nan!’ ‘I’ll always adore you, girl.’
He has now revealed that he was on the verge of cancelling the programme due to fears that he would be unable to attend her burial.
‘If I couldn’t have changed the funeral date I would have reneged,’ he said.
He decided to go ahead with his plans after verifying he would be home in time for her burial on December 15.
‘I’m here now,’ he continued.’
‘She was in a home and told my mum: “I’ll be able to watch every night”. But I’m sure she’ll be watching wherever she is, whatever she’s doing.’
Tony did admit, however, that he had some misgivings about travelling to Australia so soon after his grandmother’s death.
‘I signed it [the contract] the day before she passed away so there’s no going back now. I signed it and I honoured my agreement. In an ideal world, I would have left it, but I signed the day before my nan passed away,’ he explained.
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Sharing how close he was to his nan, Tony explained she was ‘wonderful’ and a ‘diamond of an old lady’.
‘I come from a single-parent’s household. My dad left when I was 10.
‘So when you come from where I come from your nan helps around because your mother has to work.
‘So your nan was your second mum. So yeah, she was a lovely woman and had a heart of gold. She’ll be missed by all of us.’
Tony, who met his wife Rachael Roberts when he was nine years old, also said that being in the jungle will be the longest period they’ve ever been away.
‘This is the longest I haven’t spoken to my wife for 22 years, since the day we’ve been together. But I’m used to being alone in the camp with the microwave and the iPad for weeks,’ he said.
‘I’m sure I’ll get to know Nigel Farage and we’ll go from there. I’m from a different world from these people and I don’t class myself as a celebrity. I’m just good at punching someone in the face.’
I’m A Celebrity continues tonight on ITV and ITVX at 9pm.