Former dating show contestants don’t have a great track record on I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here.
Anna Henrich, Keira Maguire, Erin Barnett: None of these Bach and Love Island stars lasted very long in the jungle, all voted out early or midway through their seasons. So far, Bach contestant Laurina Fleure’s been the best of the bunch, placing a respectable third during her Celeb stint.
But last night Abbie Chatfield broke the curse, romping all the way to victory as this year’s I’m A Celeb winner – her third reality TV outing after controversial appearances on The Bachelor and Bachelor In Paradise.
She even beat Gold Logie-winner Grant Denyer in the process; photos of the two at the finale afterparty suggest Denyer may have thought he had it in the bag.
Ever humble, Chatfield today told news.com.au she believes she never would have won if it weren’t for the show’s altered format this year.
With the show being filmed in advance for the first time this season, contestants were eliminated based on their performance in trials, not by the viewers at home. It was only during last night’s finale – after having watched them five nights a week for the past month – that viewers got to pick their favourite of the seven stars left.
Chatfield believes all that time shielded from a public vote was her saving grace.
“Honestly, if it was public voting the whole way through, everyone would’ve not given me a chance. I’m really grateful that I was able to go all the way to the end and change people’s minds about me,” she said.
“Going in, we didn’t know what the structure was going to be this season. I thought, I’ll last maybe two or three eliminations at the most.”
Chatfield’s had a bumpy ride in the public eye ever since that infamous introduction to Bachelor Matt Agnew in the first episode of the show’s 2019 season. (Matt: “I’m an astrophysicist.” Abbie: “OK … I’m a Gemini!”) Viewers were vicious.
As she put it rather heartbreakingly on Instagram after her win last night, “A year ago I was getting death threats and now [previous I’m A Celeb winner Miguel Maestre] is crowning me!”
She told news.com.au the feeling that people hated her had been difficult to shake.
“I still feel that way all the time – even after last night. Even though everything’s so different to how it was on The Bachelor, it’s kind of ingrained in me now, unfortunately. That was my first experience on TV, with people telling me how much they hated me.
“Even now I get people saying, ‘I HATED you in The Bachelor but I’m loving you on I’m A Celeb.’ You can just leave the hate part out! You don’t need to remind me that all of Australia hated me!”
But Chatfield said that in the end, perhaps the “bad Bachelor edit” worked in her favour for I’m A Celeb, giving her an obstacle to work against as viewers got to know her better: “People love a redemption story.”
Chatfield’s certainly not the first reality TV contestant to complain about a bad edit – but why return for more? Wasn’t she concerned she’d get the same treatment on I’m A Celeb?
“I told the producers I was really worried about the editing – even after we filmed I was like, ‘I don’t trust this. I really don’t trust this.’ But you’ve got to risk something to change [people’s] perceptions, otherwise you’d just have to wallow in it,” she said.