Viewers fall in love (again) with the Duchess of Dagenham

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The Independent Online

She captivated audiences of The X Factor last year with her soulful voice and ditzy manner, but then she seemed to disappear. Fast-forward 12 months, and the transformation of Stacey Solomon from unknown Essex girl to the nation's sweetheart is complete.

Last night Solomon was crowned "Queen of the Jungle", beating ex-Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder in the final of I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! While fans of Simon Cowell's singing talent competition had glimpsed a flavour of her bubbly personality, a stint in the Australian jungle allowed millions of television viewers to get to know the 21-year-old much better and broadened her appeal.

PR experts said the real winnings will come when Solomon returns home to her beloved Dagenham, predicting that she could pocket as much as £5m next year. Max Clifford said she now had "wider appeal", both to young people who watch The X Factor and to the mass audience of I'm a Celebrity.

PR expert Mark Borkowski said household brands, such as supermarkets, would be attracted by Solomon's authenticity and "girl- next-door" appeal. He explained: "She comes across as a family girl. She's very sensible. She's polite. She thinks things through." However, he said it was "surprising" that she had done another reality show so soon after The X Factor.

The single mother has proved there is much more to her than singing. Whether jumping out of a plane or rummaging among creepy crawlies, she was up to the task. And entertaining with it.

Her accurate throwing arm led to what many regard as the highlight of the series. When taking part in a secret task, she attracted the attention of fellow "spy", Independent on Sunday columnist Dom Joly, by lobbing a stone right into his eye.

Despite incessant torrential rain, she maintained a sunny disposition and came across as being much more intelligent and stronger than many people might have expected.

Her fellow finalist also proved something of a surprise package. Although Ryder maintained his hard-man image, he frequently showed a softer side. Mr Borkowski said "edgier" brands may want to recruit Ryder to add a sense of fun to their marketing.

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