‘I Thought It Was Just A TV Show’: Grant Denyer Says The Jungle Healed Him

Every year, rumours swirled that Grant Denyer would be heading into the jungle.

In 2021, he finally threw his Akubra into the ring, and made it all the way to the final three standing alongside Jess Eva and the newly crowned Queen of the Jungle, Abbie Chatfield.

“I think I said no six years in a row,” Grant told 10 play with a laugh. “I knew it would be s**t!”

“It’s funny,” he continued, “when I was in there I hated it. It was so hard. All the challenges were horrific and everything about you was challenged. It was uncomfortable and I wanted to leave.

“Now that it’s finished I don’t want it to end! You look back and you realise, yes the challenges were disgusting, I cried a lot, and I was pushed to the edge,” Grant said, “but there are also beautiful things that happened where you discover a thing about yourself that you didn’t know existed.”

One thing that Grant took away from the experience of living in the so-called Aussie jungle was the connections he made with the other celebs.

“I’ve underestimated the power of friendship a lot in my life,” he said. “I’ve just always aggressively chased goals and been very work-focused.”

Through his time in the camp, Grant says he opened up to many of the other celebs, telling them things he admitted he hadn’t shared with his family before then.

“You end up purging a lot of really deep things about yourself and there’s a lot of healing that goes on with that. There are a lot of great listeners in there. You end up discovering a lot about yourself but also healing a great deal of yourself as well,” he said.

Though he had turned down the opportunity to give jungle life a whirl several years in a row, Grant was still shocked when the reality of what he had finally signed up to set in.

“I thought it was just a TV show!” he said incredulously. “I thought it was just made for television and come eight o’clock at night they’d take you to the Sofitel and feed you Tim Tams and life would be wonderful. But there are snakes under your bed, there are rats in your bed. It was hectic.”

Not only were there snakes under the beds, but Grant also got an opportunity to be buried alive with over 70 snakes writhing over him in the Viper Room trial. It was a huge moment for Grant who for many years had suffered from claustrophobia. Managing to overcome his phobia, and the added fear of the many, many snakes being poured over him, he scored a full suite of stars for the challenge.

“You come out [of the jungle] and you’re not as limited by fear,” he said.

“Fear can be a horrible driving factor in your life that limits your potential but if you go in there and face some of those fears it just releases joy. You’re no longer shackled by the things that have terrified you for years. You can be the best version of yourself.”

Having worked in the entertainment industry for 20 years, Grant had to also deal with his instinct to perform for the cameras.

“You’ve got your outer-armour on and you’re still in TV mode because that’s your most natural reflex,” he said. “It took a few days for me to realise I don’t need to keep pretending.”

“Everyone’s so used to me being really positive, high-energy, smiley game show guy but that’s not real life. No one can maintain that amount of positivity around the clock,” he continued.

“I couldn’t just be a TV host in there… I wouldn’t be able to make it to the end. I didn’t have the energy to hold that facade up, so you drop your guard and the really beautiful stuff starts to happen.

“Life is full of ups and downs, and I’ve made thousands of mistakes. But mistakes make you who you are so, to sort of open up about those, if it helps someone else then so be it.

“More importantly, it was nice to help myself by talking about it. It’s not real, being a game show host every single day. It was nice to embrace my flaws and know that those scars are things that make you who you are.”

Want more so-called jungle? 10 play has full seasons of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! to watch On Demand