Bullard insists banter not bullying
Former footballer Jimmy Bullard went from surefire favourite to become the first contestant booted from I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! as he paid the penalty after suggestions that he had bullied Jake Quickenden.
Ex-Premier League star Bullard suffered a huge fall from grace after he appeared to have been picking on his fellow camper, with bookies saying his early exit was one of the show's biggest ever shocks.
Many turned against him after he clashed with former X Factor hopeful Quickenden in a foulmouthed rant in which he demanded to know: "Why the f*** are you in here? What are you? What sort of skill have you got?"
After his exit last night, Bullard - who styled himself as the camp's jester - said his comments had simply been "banter".
And reflecting on the issue this morning, he told ITV's Lorraine show: "It does come across to the outside as harsh. I can understand that. I knew what I was letting myself in for. But believe me, on the inside it was nothing like that."
Bullard, 36, was given his marching orders after 17 days in the Australian jungle and said he celebrated his departure with a "fry-up".
Former Wigan, Fulham and Hull midfielder Bullard left the show after losing a public vote against Carl Fogarty, television personality Melanie Sykes and rapper Tinchy Stryder.
He admitted he had struggled a bit with a lack of sleep but said being surrounded by people was "a buzz" which reminded him of a football team dressing room during his playing days.
He added: "It's the buzz of the whole thing and definitely the people around me."
Bullard's early dismissal was a shock to bookies, who said it would have been costly for punters as he had been one of the early favourites to win the whole series.
Bookmaker Coral said he was 9-1 to be evicted against 7-2 to win before being sent off.
Spokeswoman Nicola McGeady said Bullard's eviction had been "one of the biggest shocks in the show's history" with punters backing Tinchy Stryder to leave.
But Bullard said he was glad he had taken part and made good friends with motorbike racer Fogarty and Quickenden, tipping them both for victory.
He joked: "I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm going to stay mates with all of them - well, unless they all delete my number."