'I’m A Celebrity': Vernon Kay reveals the surprising celeb he took advice from before the show

Jayne Cherrington-Cook
·5-min read
Vernon Kay revealed he asked reality star Brian Dowling for advice before taking part in I'm A Celebrity (ITV)
Vernon Kay revealed he asked reality star Brian Dowling for advice before taking part in I'm A Celebrity (ITV)

Before entering the castle in 2020's I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here, Vernon Kay made sure to get advice from the ultimate reality star: Brian Dowling. Dowling won the second series of Big Brother back in 2001 and then was crowned the Ultimate Big Brother champion in 2010.

Speaking on White Wine Question Time, Kay told host Kate Thornton that the Irish reality star was a natural choice not only due to his experience but also because he’s a trusted friend.

“I spoke to Brian Dowling because he's won Big Brother twice,” he said.

“He's a beautiful person, he's a great guy and he's a good family friend, because Tess worked with him on SM-TV after Cat and Ant and Dec left. 

"I said to Brian ‘I need some advice, so what's it going to be like?’”

Watch: Vernon Kay remembers the time he saved a woman from drowning

The All Stars Family Fortunes presenter said he wouldn’t share his exact advice as it involved a swear word that he didn’t want his daughters or mum to hear, but it involved working out why everyone was there.

“He said, ‘What you've got to realise is, once you get in there, you establish really quickly, who's there for Instagram likes, who's there to cause a fuss, who's there to really stir the pot and get people talking and get people bitching?’” explained Kay.

Read more: Vernon Kay says lockdown helped him 'get under the skin' of relationship with wife Tess Daly

“He said, ‘There's always one person who's a [swear word] - you'll find that person really quickly and that's the person you've got to watch.’ And he said, 'If you can't find the [swear word] then it's you!’

Brian Dowling wins the final of Ultimate Big Brother on September 10, 2010 in Borehamwood, England.  (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Brian Dowling wins the final of Ultimate Big Brother on September 10, 2010 in Borehamwood, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Kay, who’s presenting new prime-time Saturday night show Game Of Talents, said that he took Dowling’s advice to heart and tried to find the troublemaker in the group, even going so far as discussing it with his fellow camp mates around the fire one night.

Listen: Vernon Kay on how a trip to The Clothes Show took him from a banana factory to the big time

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“I told them the story,” he recalled.

“I said, ‘Listen, Brian Dowling said that, if you can't find the [swear word], then it's you, so I apologise because I’ve no idea who's the [swear word], so it must be me!’ Everyone started laughing.”

The 20th series of I’m A Celebrity was seen as one of the nicest in the history of the show, but Kay thinks this is because no-one had an agenda.

Read more: Vernon Kay says volunteering to help vaccine roll-out is 'amazing experience'

“I think it was great because everyone's careers in I'm A Celebrity were established so no one had really anything to prove,” he told Thornton.

Screengrab of Vernon Kay (ITV)
Screengrab of Vernon Kay on I'm A Celeb (ITV)

Kay, who appeared on the show alongside Russell Watson, Beverley Callard and Victoria Derbyshire revealed that some of his camp-mates – and the things they’d been through – made him feel slightly insignificant.

“There's a moment when I thought, ‘Well, I've got Family Fortunes interactive DVD available in the bargain bin at WHSmith!’” he joked.

—He continued: “I felt really kind of inadequate, because all these people's journeys were so emotional and big big moments they'd had to experience and endure — and they came out the other side. I think that's thing that held us together was if we can overcome cancer in the group and brain tumours and all that kind of stuff and serious depression then surely eating a couple of deer’s testicles is nothing!”

Read more: Vernon Kay lines up I'm a Celebrity reunion on new show Game of Talents

While Kay came third in the show, he said he nearly didn’t do it – after the show’s location was moved from Australia to Wales due to the pandemic.

“When you get that phone call saying: ‘We've changed our minds because of the pandemic, we're not going to go to Australia, we're going to Llandudno!’ it was like ‘Good luck with that. I'll do it next year!”,” he laughed.

Vernon Kay, Beverley Callard, Sir Mo Farah CBE, Jessica Plummer, Shane Richie, Victoria Derbyshire, AJ Pritchard, Giovanna Fletcher, Hollie Arnold MBE and Jordan North in a promotional still for I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! (ITV)
Vernon Kay, Beverley Callard, Sir Mo Farah CBE, Jessica Plummer, Shane Richie, Victoria Derbyshire, AJ Pritchard, Giovanna Fletcher, Hollie Arnold MBE and Jordan North in a promotional still for I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! (ITV)

“That was actually my response. I was at work at the time in Berlin, and I just put the phone down.”

He continued: ‘I’d literally been on ASOS and bought 12 proper pairs of shorts, preparing myself for some time in the sunshine and then I end up sending them back and getting thermals.”

Hear Vernon Kay talk about the time he rescued a drowning woman in Florida in the recent episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Watch: Emily Attack on how I'm A Celebrity helped her deal with body anxieties