Matthew Wright is a contestant on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity..Get Me Out Of Here 2013!
Date of birth: 8 July 1965
Phobias: Absolutely terrified of spiders
Missing any special occasions: Yes my daily weekday talk show on Channel 5
Relationship status: Married
For Matthew Wright, facing his lifelong fear of spiders is going to be his biggest ever challenge when he takes part in I’m A Celebrity.
The gregarious and outspoken talk show host is so scared of the creepy crawly that he fears he will cope even worse than former contestant Paul Burrell, who famously squealed on the show as he put his hand into boxes containing green ants, cockroaches and rats in 2004.
And the 48-year-old star admits he has even tried to seek therapy in the run-up to the show, but experts have told him there isn’t enough time to cure his spider phobia.
“I have a terror of spiders,” he reveals. “And based on the fact that I have seen every I’m A Celebrity so far, I will say, hand on heart, you have never seen anyone quite as frightened of spiders than me.
“I am definitely worse than Dean Gaffney and a little bit below Paul Burrell, which is not a position any man wants to be in.
“I know I will be teary. I just don’t want to act as big a girl as Paul Burrell. That was the most humiliating moment I have seen on television and my wife, Amelia, worries I can out do Paul Burrell. I am still hoping I won’t.”
Going on to talk about seeking professional help for his phobia, he adds: “I won’t lie. I have investigated whether I could be treated. But the two people I spoke to told me there wasn’t enough time to do an effective treatment. I have got a mate of mine who is an amateur arachnologist and he has given me a link on the computer, which is an animated film that is apparently very good at helping people with their fear of spiders – and so I am going to give that a go.”
Given he is so scared of spiders, it begs the question why on earth he wants to live in the jungle?
“ I don’t need to do the show for job reasons,” he replies. “I am doing the show to deal with my issues. It’s not just spiders. I have a fear of heights, I don’t like creepy crawlies and I am quite a fearful person underneath my tough, journalistic exterior. It’s getting worse as I am getting older. I have to put a stop to it and this is my decision.
“The irony is that I am an outdoors person. I love going off camping under the stars, I have been out in the woods with Ray Mears and I go up mountains fly-fishing. The payback is I am going to have to deal with the terror.
“The choice is you go and deal with it or you spend the rest of your life wondering why. I know I would hate myself for a long time to come if I didn’t give it a go.”
An incredibly good natured, jovial person who wears his heart on his sleeve, Matthew – who hosts a daily talk show on Channel 5 – hopes he will play a mixture of roles in the camp.
He explains: “I will want to make the campsite sorted, I will make things out of jungle stuff to make life easier, I have a wicked sense of humour and I will be the camp joker.“
Smiling, he also says he will stick to his guns if someone is bothering him – just as he has no qualms speaking his mind on his TV programme. “Truth be told, if I am pushed into a corner and I am dealing with unreasonable people, I will quite happily tell a few home truths and put people in their places,” he promises.
Revealing he’d love to share a few stories around the campfire with Keith Richards, Kate Moss or Cara Delevingne, Matthew knows exactly the kind of contestant who would drive him up the wall.
“If you could create this horrible mixture of Sinitta and Helen Flanagan, then that is pretty close to the creature that would be my nightmare camp mate,” he says, pulling no punches as he does.
Very much embracing everything to do with jungle life, Matthew says he hopes to learn a lot about himself along the way, but he admits there are plenty of things he will miss. “I am going to really miss my wife, Amelia, my dog, a glass of red wine in the evening and spacey psychedelic music. I don’t think I have ever gone as long a period without the music!”
As for walking away with the title of King of the jungle and the popular TV presenter insists he definitely will not do anything to win it. In fact, his biggest fear is he will be so scared of some of the challenges that he will quit before he is voted out.
Explains Matthew: “I am really hoping I won’t say ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get me Out of Here’ but if I put a bet on myself of saying it to get out of a challenge, then I think I would put a large amount of money on it!
“I have never done anything like this before. I certainly have never touched a spider and the thought of it scares me witless.
“It’s going to be an interesting, amusing, surprising and frightening experience for me as it is for everyone watching – and you can’t say anything fairer than that!”