Swash crowned I'm A Celebrity's King of the Jungle
Published 06/12/2008 | 00:33
Former EastEnders actor Joe Swash was crowned King of the Jungle tonight in I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!
The 26-year-old won the public vote ahead of tennis ace Martina Navratilova in the ITV show's eighth series.
Earlier actor George Takei, best known as Star Trek's Mr Sulu, was booted off the final to boldly go into third place.
Swash, the sixth celebrity to become a jungle King, hugged Navratilova after he won saying: "You're my Queen, darling."
He told presenters Ant and Dec: "It's been an amazing three weeks. It's been everything, It's been ups, it's been downs.
"It was just a lovely experience and I'm definitely coming out a much maturer man than I was when I went in there. It's been worthwhile," he added.
He was crowned by a former winning contestant, singer Matt Willis, and his wife TV presenter Emma Griffiths.
Wimbledon legend Navratilova, 52, said she felt "just fabulous - happy for Joe".
Swash played EastEnder wideboy Mickey Miller but was axed from the soap in February.
The actor, who has a 17-month-old son, Harry, prepared for the show by cutting down to two meals a day.
Before entering the jungle, he said: "I haven't got my character to hide behind any more - I've got to be myself.
"So it's like I'm saying to everyone, 'This is me - what do you reckon?' And if people don't like me then I've got to face up to that."
The finalists were each faced with a Bushtucker Trial in the final episode, playing for a fully prepared three course meal for their last supper.
In his Danger Down Under task, Swash had to lie on his back in a pit, with the lid closed, while water, rats and eels were poured in.
He stayed underground for the full 10 minutes to win starters, a beverage and a special treat for the team.
Afterwards he said he was "over the moon" to have completed his final task, although he added: "I smell like a hamster."
Takei - the oldest contestant on the show at 71 - was required to munch on unappetising jungle foods to win main courses for the finalists.
The American swallowed cockroaches, locusts, a witchetty grub and even a kangaroo penis - which he described as "a cute little thing, isn't it?"
But he drew the line at a camel's testicle, saying: "I think I've done enough, I feel quite full".
Navratilova's trial involved wearing a helmet while containers of various creatures - including grasshoppers, stick insects and snakes - were tipped into it.
She completed the task, despite the insects crawling inside her bra, to win desserts, drinks and treats for the trio.
The finalists later enjoyed a candlelit dinner with champagne.
Swash said: "It was a proper dinner. I'm not the most civilised of people."
He said he "tried my hardest" at the meal but "the more champagne I drank, that just went out the window".
The winner also was also presented with a Man For All Seasons award by his fellow finalists. Takei told him: "You have a heart as big as this whole canyon".
Navratilova was dubbed Superwoman and "the champion in this camp" by Swash, who said she was "affectionate, kind, you're loving, you're giving".
Takei was awarded the King Amongst Men prize.
After being voted off, he told And and Dec it had been an "unforgettable experience".
"The greatest gift has been the friendships I have made. They are going to last a lifetime".
Swash admitted to Ant and Dec that he had a special bond with the Star Trek star.
"I think I love the man," he said.
"For some reason I just felt like I could kiss him, and I wanted to kiss him. Not in a gay way."
Other celebrities in the latest series included former police chief Brian Paddick, ex-MP Robert Kilroy-Silk and ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen.
They were joined by Wags Carly Zucker, fiancee of England footballer Joe Cole, and Nicola McLean, engaged to footballer Tom Williams of Peterborough.
Dani Behr, former presenter of The Word, and Simon Webbe, 30, formerly of boyband Blue were also contestants.
Part-way into the series they were joined by TV presenter Timmy Mallett and ex-Dollar singer David Van Day.
Van Day, voted off yesterday, told The Sun newspaper he was "disappointed" to go but said the finalists were "three nice guys".
Last year's winner was Christopher Biggins.