Will I'm A Celebrity's Iain Lee share his strawberries when he comes to Belfast?
Ahead of his visit to Belfast's Out to Lunch Festival, Jenny Lee talks to I'm A Celebrity 2017 finalist Iain Lee about those strawberries, bullying, camel brains and his live podcast show
FRESH from finishing third, and capturing viewers' hearts during his time on I'm a Celebrity... Get me Out of Here!, Iain Lee brings his alternative live podcast show to Belfast this month.
The Talkradio presenter entered the Australian jungle programme as a relative unknown, but monopolised the tabloid headlines for days during his time in the jungle.
This followed Lee and boxer Amir Khan's scandalously devouring a box of strawberries and cream themselves, after winning them to share with their camp mates in a Dingo Dollar Challenge.
The aftermath of what became known as 'Strawberry-gate', saw Lee struggle with his guilt and confess his action to his fellow camp mates. However Khan, who was the instigator, betrayed him by leading the others to believe it was Lee's idea. After he was ostracised for his actions, viewers became outraged that Khan and fellow celebrities Jamie Lomas and Dennis Wise were 'bullying' Lee.
Despite Ofcom receiving nearly 250 complaints about the matter, Lee says that while he felt "isolated", he "wouldn't call it bullying".
Now presenting the entertainment news on Good Morning Britain, he confesses he has been surprised by the reaction to the ITV programme, which attracted 12.69 million viewers.
"I knew there would be some fallout from the strawberries, but for two or three days it was pretty miserable in there," admits Lee, who holds no grudges against any of his camp mates. "Amir didn't want to take any of the blame and could live with that – but I couldn't. However, they were the best strawberries I ever had in my life."
As in previous years, two celebrities made a late appearance in the show. Lee didn't find out until he arrived in Australia that he was chosen to enter a week after the other and the waiting gate was far from luxurious.
"The producers kept me in isolation with no access to a phone or computer and I was chaperoned throughout. I didn't even know who was in there. It was boring."
When he finally entered he was made camp prime minister, where he had to appoint different tasks to his fellow celebrities – something which made him far from popular.
During his time in the jungle Lee didn't seemed phased by rats, snakes and creepy crawlies, but did fail at challenges involving heights and swimming.
For his final bush-tucker trial, viewers watched him eat some disgusting dishes that he certainly never wants seconds of.
"The pigs vagina was OK but the camel's brains was horrendous. The jelly texture was horrible and repeated on me all day. I won a lovely big meal that evening but I couldn't eat it as I felt so sick," he laughs.
I asked Lee, did the jungle experience change him?
"We all talked about coming out and being different people and not using social media and so forth – but you revert back to type very quickly," he says. "I feel I have come some way to overcoming my fear of heights, though it's still there. But no, I won't be enrolling for swimming lessons. When will I ever need to swim three metres underwater again?"
As well as his showbiz reporting and radio presenting, Lee is taking to the road in 2018 with his live phone-in podcast The Rabbit Hole.
His next stop is Belfast's Out to Lunch Festival where, together with co-presenter Katherine Boyle, he will "talk nonsense".
"People phone in and the audience can join in if they want. The topics can be funny, stupid or get heavy. It's just a beautiful mess," he says of the show.
In terms of topics, anything goes. "From the big questions to the stupid ones, life-changing moments to those you’d rather forget, no subject’s off-limits and there are no holds barred.
"We've talked a lot about mental health. It's killing people and I feel the more we talk about it the better chance we have as a human race of surviving it," adds Lee, who spoke openly about his own mental health battle while participating in I'm a Celebrity.
And if he really did become prime minister one day, what law would he pass?
"I would make it illegal for minor celebs to be mean to other minor celebrities and strawberries for all."
:: The Rabbit Hole (Live Podcast) takes part at Belfast's Black Box on January 28 as part of the Out to Lunch Festival. For tickets and full programme visit Cqaf.com. You can listen to the podcast at Acast.com/therabbithole