Joe Swash said “I don’t know where I would be” without I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! after meeting his wife Stacey Solomon on the reality show and having children together.
The actor and TV presenter, 41, was crowned the winner of the ITV series in 2008 and went on to present the spin-off show, crediting the experience for introducing him to X Factor star Solomon during the 10th series which she won.
The couple have gone on to have three children together; son Rex, born in 2019, daughter Rose, born in October 2021 and daughter Belle, born in February 2023.
Dagenham-born singer Solomon also has two sons from two previous relationships, while Swash, who got his big break in 2003 when he was cast in EastEnders, has a son from a previous relationship.
Swash is one of the celebrities who has returned to appear in the all-star version of I’m A Celebrity in South Africa, where the campmates compete against one another to be crowned the legend of the show.
During Monday’s episode, Swash gets emotional about his time on the show, saying: “Honestly, I genuinely feel like I’m the biggest winner ever from anyone who’s done this show.
“It gave me my wife, my kids, a career for over a decade.
“Growing up, all I wanted to be was a dad and have a family. The jungle came along and I met my wife on the jungle.
“I feel like I’ve won this already. I don’t know where I would be without it. I’d just be that dude that was on EastEnders years ago. Now, I’m Stacey Solomon’s husband.”
Later in the Bush Telegraph, he says he finds his experience of the jungle hard to talk about “without getting emotional” because he wears his heart on his sleeve.
“I feel very blessed, very lucky. It was my chance to come back and say thank you. You pulled me through some very dark times and gave me everything I ever wanted,” he says.
Swash also reveals during the show that he is missing home, telling his campmates: “I’m really missing my kids… I don’t know how to get rid of the feeling.”
He added: “I was a different person the first time (I did I’m A Celeb). This time there’s so much at home waiting for me.
“Everyone wants to do their family proud and I want to do the same.”
The episode will also see Fatima Whitbread selected for the Deadly Depths trial and Janice Dickinson departing camp after leaving a note for her fellow campmates saying she had an “extraordinary experience”.
The campmates learnt that Dickinson has left the show after injuring herself, with actress Helen Flanagan reading a message from the American model and saying: “I think we’re all going to really miss Janice.”
I’m A Celebrity…South Africa airs tonight at 9pm on ITV1 and ITVX.