Carol Thatcher wins 'I'm a Celebrity' (but mother didn't watch)

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The Independent Online

From Phil Tufnell to Kerry McFadden, the I'm a Celebrity... jungle creates some unlikely heroes. But the daughter of Britain's most recognisable former prime minister is perhaps the most unlikely yet.

Carol Thatcher, crowned queen of the jungle last night, said that her mother was not tuning in to see her daughter eat squelching kangaroo testicles or swim across a lake with poisonous frogs and snakes on her head. But Margaret's steely influence could be seen, as none of the tasks fazed the 52-year-old journalist.

Though the Bush Tucker trials were tough, Thatcher said: "I was brought up to get on with it, you will not be surprised to hear."

The former soap opera actors Sheree Murphy and Sid Owen came second and third in the event.

Thatcher told the presenters, Ant and Dec, she was "amazed, astonished and gobsmacked" to win, and found taking part in the show a "life-enhancing experience". She said: "In previous series people have left early as they didn't like it or had rows. We have replaced acrimonious bickering with pleasant banter."

Thatcher entered the ITV reality show as a 33-1 outsider to win the crown. She made an unpromising start - throwing up on herself during a 12,000ft skydive into the jungle. Ten million viewers saw her pull down her knickers and squat on the floor next to her hammock, rather than go to the camp toilet.

But her self-deprecating humour and fearsome streak endeared her to millions. She told Ant and Dec that fish eyes and kangaroo testicles are "apparently better with balsamic vinegar".

And, after swimming across a lake with poisonous frogs, snakes and furry bushrats on her head, she offered to repeat the challenge in order to win pudding for fellow campers.

"I promise I won't be the Iron Lady Jnr, which, with my genes, some people might be surprised about," she said before entering the jungle. "You'll get no party political broadcasts from me and I'm more than happy to be bossed around rather than be bossy."

Thatcher, who read law and qualified as a solicitor before switching to journalism, had not told her mother she was going on the show, for which she is thought to have earned a £40,000 fee for appearing.

Before she won, she told the remaining contestants: "I left my mother's home phone number behind so I don't even know her number. She doesn't know I'm here so she won't notice. I'm more interested in switching on the news."

Thatcher's triumph is costing bookmakers £250,000, Ladbrokes said last night. A William Hill spokesman, Rupert Adams, said: "We thought Carol was a complete no-hoper but we have been well and truly stuffed. Despite the loss, I cannot help but feel we should not have been surprised that a Thatcher is as hard as nails."

She will now be offered the book deals and commercial endorsements which previous winners have experienced. And, while the chances of her becoming an MP stand at 50-1, the odds on her following in her mother's footsteps have been put at 500-1.

Jungle kings and queens

SERIES 1: TONY BLACKBURN, RADIO DJ
Blackburn won a shock victory, beating Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. His career revived, and he celebrated his 40th anniversary on radio last year during his breakfast show on Classic Gold Digital. He also rejoined the BBC to present a Monday night soul show on BBC London.

SERIES 2: PHIL TUFNELL, CRICKETER
After 12 million people saw the spin bowler win. He went on to be team captain on the sports quiz They Think It's All Over, appeared on chat shows and joined the after-dinner speech circuit.

SERIES 3: KERRY KATONA, POP SINGER
After her win, a civic ceremony was held in her native Warrington. But as the celebrity lifestyle takes its toll she has spent time in rehab. She recently denied allegations that she had started drinking alcohol again.

* SERIES 4: JOE PASQUALE, COMEDIAN
Since arriving back from the jungle he has appeared on An Audience with Joe Pasquale and presented ITV's 50 Greatest Shows. He also plays the role of a lieutenant in the film Dead Long Enough, yet to be released. His references to his "jacobs" on I'm a Celebrity boosted the sales of Jacobs Cream Crackers.

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