RUGBY hardman James Haskell has claimed he almost keeled over in the I’m A Celeb jungle before his eviction because he was so hungry.
The hulking former England ace, 34, said he had panic attacks, went dizzy and struggled to walk after having as few as 100 calories a day.
And he reckoned he was on the verge of needing medical help before his exit on Tuesday night.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun hours after leaving camp, James said of his diet restrictions: “I was so hungry. I was unable to get off my bed and move.
“I had physical ailments from where I went from 4,000 calories to 250 calories. That is starvation. That was the biggest shock.
“I had nothing in my legs. I’ve never had a panic attack before. It felt like I’d done leg weights or 100 hill sprints and I’d get up and go dizzy. I’d have to hold on to the tree and hold myself up. I’d walk 25 steps and be heavy breathing.”
Contestants get basic rations of around four spoonfuls of rice and beans for each meal, with the chance to win more through trials.
James claims he lost nearly 2st during his 18 days in the jungle, adding: “I did feel personally handicapped. I was starving.
“I realise I’m from a very privileged life but there were moments where I was like, ‘This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do’.”
But now James is planning to take full advantage of his higher profile to land lucrative jobs alongside wife Chloe Madeley, 32 — with a keen eye on doing panto.
During Tuesday night’s show, he and Corrie star Andy were seen in drag as the Ugly Sisters for a jungle skit called Criteralla.
James told The Sun: “I hammed it up for the cameras because I’m desperate to do panto. I would love to be a dame.
“I absolutely love acting, love playing around. Some people were like, ‘Oh it’s a bit late’, but I got to ham it up with Andy from Corrie and put on a northern camp accent. It was brilliant.
“I want to do it with Chloe. She can be the princess and I’ll be the dame. I’d love it.”
But James said he played more of a fairy godmother role to some campmates, including EastEnders actress Jacqueline Jossa, 27.
The Sun revealed that she struggled in the first week after Myles Stephenson, 28, claimed her husband Dan Osborne, 28, had cheated on her with his ex Gabby Allen, 25.
It led to an unprecedented move by producers to allow her and Dan to communicate via a third party.
According to James, Jacqueline’s emotional state was on a rollercoaster from the start.
He said: “She was crying within the first hour of the show. She said she’d been through a lot of hard stuff in life, I don’t know about it.
“She was saying she wanted to do something for herself. She wants to prove people wrong and make her daughters proud.
“I think she’s done incredibly well. I think she’s shown herself to be an absolute hero.”
James also said Good Morning Britain’s Kate Garraway, 52, needed an arm around her shoulder as she quietly struggled off-camera.
He added: “Kate talked herself down every single day — ‘I can’t do this. I’m not good at this. I don’t look like this’. And Jacqueline, ‘I can’t do this’. Chloe has taught me so much about women and understanding stuff, being compassionate.
“I would sit them down and say, ‘Look, you’ve got to stop talking self-doubt. Please stop talking about yourself like that. Stop worrying about being fearful. She would come back and go, ‘I’ve shocked myself’. I spent my whole time in there doing this, which they wouldn’t have shown.”
Some of what producers chose to screen and omit is a sore topic for James.
He is frustrated by the suggestion he was been turned into this year’s villain in the edit, and baffled by accusations of bullying after his outburst during a Dingo Dollar Challenge drew Ofcom complaints.
He said: “Sometimes you need an organiser and I bore the brunt of that by being that person.
“My demeanour the whole time was really nice, really friendly, really calm. I’ve never addressed anyone standing up because of my size. If I was being an a***hole in there, they wouldn’t have cried or been how they were when I left.”
And it wasn’t only his campmates who had tears in their eyes, as James wept too when reunited with wife Chloe.
James' verdict on the celebs
- Andy Whyment: "Absolute salt of the earth, the most northern northerner I have ever met. Friendly, calm — what a hero."
- Caitlyn Jenner: "She is a complete inspiration. She was my step-wife in life, and was an absolute joy to know."
- Ian Wright: "A legend of a man who wears his heart on his sleeve. I think he’s a friend for life and someone I’ll miss."
- Jacqueline Jossa: "She's an incredible woman with so many layers to her and has given an unbelievable account of herself."
- Kate Garraway: "Scared of everything. But a trouper, who has to see herself as we see her: an amazingly talented woman."
- Myles Stephenson: "A sextuple talent — good-looking, singer, dancer, chef, eyes, lunchbox you wouldn’t believe. Lovely guy."
- Nadine Coyle: "Sass personified. She is unfazed by everything. She went to bed looking great, and woke up looking great."
- Roman Kemp: "One of the most emotionally intelligent people I’ve ever met. Funny, and we’ll be friends a long time."
- Cliff Parisi: "Really friendly guy. He didn’t know what he was getting himself into — struggled but came to the fore."
- Andrew Maxwell: "Probably one of the most intelligent people I’ve met. I found him amusing and he got me through week one."
- Adele Roberts: "Kind and sweet, I thought would win. She was a hero of the camp and should have been in the final."
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He added: “Men showing emotion is so important. I didn’t cry on our wedding day, but I saw her and it was just overwhelming how much I missed her.”
However, it seems unlikely the couple will be apart much in future, with James saying: “I would never do reality TV again. I’ve done this — it’s the pinnacle.
“Maybe this will kick me on to different things. Maybe I’ll fade into obscurity or get my head kicked in at MMA instead.”
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