How Dagenham diva Stacey has become a Jungle Queen
Her dippy, down-to-earth nature and irrepressible optimism won her many fans both inside and outside the jungle.
Essex singer Stacey Solomon quickly emerged as the bookies’ favourite to win the 10th series of I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here as her cheeriness and determination earned her the respect of her fellow camp-mates and the admiration of the viewers.
Until last year, the “Diva from Dagenham” — the new Queen of the Jungle — was an unknown single mum, struggling to look after her baby son Zach. Then she appeared on the X Factor, coming third to Olly Murs and eventual winner Joe McElderry.
But while both boys maximised the X Factor opportunity and launched pop careers on the back of the show, Stacey failed to land a recording deal.
Indeed, there were those who questioned her celebrity credentials when she was asked to go into the jungle alongside well-known stars such as Nigel Havers and Britt Ekland.
But it quickly became apparent that Stacey was the contestant to beat and the bookies singled her out as the favourite from the start.
Despite admitting to fears of bugs and confined spaces, the 21-year-old never shied away from any of the challenges. She also impressed when she took Olympic sprinter Linford Christie to task over his sexist remarks and confronted Gillian McKeith over her constant complaining.
The affection of her fellow contestants was obvious when they left the jungle. One by one, they all singled out Stacey as the celebrity to win.
She also provided one of the funniest moment of this year’s series when she threw the stone at Dom Joly during their spy challenge, hitting him in the eye.
But it was her positivity and ability to smile through the hardships that really set her apart from the other contestants and won her a place in the hearts of the viewers.
On internet forums, one fan confessed that she’d had preconceived ideas about the Essex girl.
“I groaned out loud when I first saw Stacey going into the jungle, but how wrong I was about this young woman,” she said. “She’s an absolutely fantastic person.”
Another posted: “Well done Stacey, what a great sport you are.”
And another viewer wrote: “What a completely lovely girl.”
Prior to going into the jungle Stacey revealed that she would love to secure a record deal or land a role in the West End.
Her sister Jemma told a Sunday newspaper: “Stacey is grateful for what she’s got but I know she would love to have a record deal.
“She would love to do a proper album. It’s always been her dream to make a living from music and provide for Zach.”
And I’m A Celebrity has certainly opened doors for previous winners. DJ Tony Blackburn, actor Joe Swash, cricketer Phil Tufnall and singer Kerry Katona all landed lucrative advertising and publishing deals after winning the show, while others have gone on to work as television presenters.
It’s likely that the Diva from Dagenham will finally see her dreams come true and that record deals will now be offered to her. And the nation will have a new sweetheart.