Channel 10’s I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here is set to premiere tonight and the network has finally confirmed two of its contestants ahead of the much-anticipated reality TV show.
In a tweet this morning, it was revealed that veteran actress and TV host Toni Pearen and comedian/radio presenter Mel Buttle are heading into the jungle for the 2021 Australian season.
Pearen was on the leaked list but Buttle wasn’t.
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Pearen became a big name in Aussie entertainment after scoring the role of Toni Windsor on soap opera E Street, playing her from 1989 until 1992.
Pearen also hosted Australia‘s Funniest Home Videos from 2003 to 2007, then a year later was a competitor on the eighth season of Dancing with the Stars.
However, Pearen has been out of the public eye for years after she had kids, and she said that was one of the hardest things to grapple with when deciding to head into the jungle.
“I barely slept all week,” the 48-year-old mother-of-two told The BINGE Guide after being approached about the role.
Pearen initially thought they were asking her to be a host – but then she realised they meant for her to be a contestant.
“The minute my head hit the pillow, my brain would be filled with spiders and snakes,” she added.
Uncertain about spending so long away from her family, the decision was made for Pearen when Network 10 had to follow more stringent quarantine requirements because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of dragging celebs to the wilds of South Africa, as they have done in previous seasons, the pandemic means all the shooting had to be done at home.
The show was filmed in northern NSW — in Murwillumbah, if rumours are to be believed.
What we see tonight is also entirely prerecorded (which is lucky considering Pearen is from the northern part of Sydney’s northern beaches, which is currently in lockdown over coronavirus concerns).
Of the 14 contestants, we also know for sure that Aussie comedian icon Buttle will be appearing on the show.
Buttle is an Australian comedian who rose to prominence after winning an award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for her solo show ‘How Embarrassment’ back in 2013.
She’s just finished up a tenure as co-host of The Great Australian Bake Off alongside Claire Hooper.
Buttle said she would soon be 40 and after the year of uncertainty as a comedian during a global pandemic, she had to take the role once it was offered.
“I thought, I’ve just been offered a great gig where I get to be funny and hang out with people and have challenges. What else am I going to do? Sit here and watch Dr Phil?” she told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Buttle is already an avid fan of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, having seen many of her comedian mates go through the motions.
“I often know the comedians who end up in the jungle. It’s a really small industry. So I watch it to watch my mates. Eat maggots. And suffer,” she said.
Buttle is 39 and said she wanted to do something “hard” before she turned 40.
Plus, she has an edge over the other participants.
The comedian is a Queenslander and reckons she’s eaten most of the food there is to offer in the Australian outback.
“In Africa, when they get their dinner dropped off to them, it’s always this weirdo meat. It‘s like, here’s an elk calf muscle. But in Australia, I reckon I’ve eaten most of the stuff they’ll be offering us.”
Usually there are 14 contestants on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and we have a pretty good idea of who the others are, based on the leaked list.
Other contestants rumoured — but not confirmed — include AFL legend Robert DiPierdomenico, comedian Ash Williams, Adam and Symon from Gogglebox, Pettifleur Berenger from The Real Housewives of Melbourne, singer Paulini, Australia’s Got Talent winner Jack Vidgen, and celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge, who apparently replaced Pete Evans.
Dancing With The Stars hosts Grant Denyer and Amanda Keller are also heading into the arena as it were.