Julia Morris Reveals Why She Felt ‘Ripped Off’ By Mel Buttle’s Departure In The Best Way

With the celebs facing the first elimination, Julia Morris opened up about the season so far.

For the first time in the show’s seven years, I’m A Celebrity went through some massive changes due to COVID restrictions. Filming in Australia’s own so-called jungle backyard and taping ahead of time, co-hosts Chris Brown and Julia Morris were back to doing what they do best: making us laugh, cry and pushing a whole new batch of celebrities to their limits.

One celeb who had to pull the pin early on the experience was comedian Mel Buttle who, after a snake was spotted near camp, admitted to a snake phobia that meant she couldn’t continue living in the camp.

Mel became the third celeb in the show’s history to say the words and leave, following Bernard Tomic and Anthony Mundine. In the past, Julia has had some strong words about Tomic and Mundine’s decisions.

“I feel like those boys gave up,” Julia told 10 play over the phone, “I do not feel like Mel Buttle gave up.”

After the snake was spotted, Mel became clearly distressed and though she knew snakes would be a part of the show, it was a phobia she wasn’t able to overcome.

“I actually looked it up today because when I’m speaking about it I don’t want to disrespect anybody with a phobia… but a phobia strikes you to stillness where your anxiety just stops allowing you to function properly at all,” Julia said.

“So I love that Mel was honest, I love that she talked us through how she felt,” she continued adding that she felt “a bit ripped off” that Mel made the decision but only because she was enjoying seeing her on the show so much.

“She was really making me laugh, I felt like I was really getting to know her,” Julia said. “But also I understood and respect the fact that she needed to go, and I did some of my own cognitive behavioural therapy on it because I thought, if I felt like I wanted to get to know Mel Buttle more what I now need to do is I need to buy a ticket to one of her shows.

“I shouldn’t just expect that she’s going to entertain me on the television. If I’m the one who wants to get to know her better, I’m not going to be cross about her leaving the show I’m going to go and actually find out more about her. Put my money where my mouth is, buy a ticket and go and watch her perform because she’s a very, very funny lady… and I admire that she tried to overcome her phobia and was really honest about it.”

Another major snake-related moment in camp was when Toni Pearen was struck repeatedly by several snakes on the face during a Tucker Trial. In the past there have been several snake bites, but mostly on people’s hands. While the moment was confronting for viewers at home, Julia described what it was like to be standing on the ground seeing it play out in real time.

“To watch someone you really adore not only be struck but struck on the face repeatedly, it was so incredibly full-on for Toni but bringing it back to me,” she said with a laugh.

“It was very intense to watch… normally [Chris and I] would go up after the trial and comfort our celebrities and give them a hug. That just was not possible this year, we just could not break the COVID bubble and step forward,” she explained.

Frustrated by the distance she was forced to maintain, Julia admitted to feeling very separated from the celebrities at times.

But just a few days later Toni was once again pushed to her limits as she scaled a tower of terror, and in a final moment leaped off the top of the 50-meter tower.

“When she jumped I started crying! And then you’re like, ‘I’ve got to pull myself together I look like an idiot’,” Julia said, laughing.

“In an odd and hopefully not patronising way I was so proud of her. When she kept going I was thinking there’s no way I could do this!”

Toni not only faced the fear and pushed through but did so at an impressive speed.

“Takes me longer to get out of my bed in the morning,” Julia joked.

This year, fans have celebrated the cast as they bond like a little jungle family. As the very first elimination looms, reality is about to set in for the celebrities as they’ll lose one of their own, shaking up the dynamic.

The group has formed such strong connections and unlikely friendships, resulting in some beautiful moments of vulnerability.

“The one thing that the jungle does to people that you think you know a little bit about, as it really starts to unfold and they start to relax,” Julia explained, “as soon as they start living, that’s when we really start to see what our celebrities are made of, what they stand for, what they’re interested in, and what they’re passionate about. That’s been really fruitful this year I think.

“They allow us into their friendships,” she continued. “Jack and Paulini becoming such lovely friends, for example. They have also been having very deep conversations, from early in the piece.”

With the distractions of modern life stripped away, the celebrities not only begin to look inward but also begin to look at those around them, and moments they share become major talking points.

“Our celebrities are bringing out the best in each other and, as a result, they are trusting each other to really open up,” Julia said.

“We are getting so many really important subjects beamed directly into our homes… we’re certainly getting to hear conversations that just aren’t in Australian homes often enough.”

Because of the changes in production, this is the first year in the show’s history that Julia has not only been able to watch along with Aussie audiences but the first year she’s actually seen the show in-full.

“I’ve never seen the show!” She said with a laugh.

“By the time I get home, honestly we’re so tired that the last thing I feel like doing is going over the previous 33-hours of television. So while I see snippets or multicast of footage, I’ve never actually seen a full show.

“Watching it night after night, I’ve felt like I’m much more a part of the Australian audience this time, and I really enjoy that.”

I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! Airs Sunday to Thursday at 7.30 on Network 10 and 10 play