Get Me Out Of Here! jungle. The father of six, who’s been married twice before, joined the likes of Susannah Constantine, Lady Colin Campbell and Jorgie Porter in the infamous camp.
But before fying to the Australian Gold Coast, Duncan and his stunning girlfriend of six months, Nigora Whitehorn, enjoyed a spot of rest and relaxation at the Royal Westmoreland Barbados with Nigora’s 13-year-old daughter, Gabrielle. Talking to LFT! upon their return from the West Indies, confdent Duncan who at the time of our chat is planning his last mealof fsh and chips with mushy peas, and sticky tofee puddingbefore he starts roughing it Down Under insists he is not at all fazed by the jungle trials. Being underground or covered in rats, I think I can handle all of it, he says. His major fear? Being away from Nigora, as the longest the couple have spent apart since the start of their whirlwind romance is just three days. It’s going to be terrible, admits the 66-year-old entrepreneur. And Nigora, 36, wells up at the mere thought of being separated from Duncan, saying: I have been having nightmares just thinking about being away from him.
Last week was tumultuous in more ways than one for Duncan, when he revealed he was shocked and appalledat the actions of his former fnance director, Christopher Watson, who was sentenced to four years in prison for defrauding the Bannatyne Group of almost £8 million between 2008 and 2014.
Here, while packing for their trip to Australia, the couple talk about Duncan’s plans to take a back seat in the jungle, his devastation at missing their six-month anniversary and his plans to pop the question
What made you want to take part in
I’m A Celebrity, Duncan?
I see it as the ultimate challenge I watched the series with Joey Essex in and it looked great fun. My children said: Dad, you should do it, so when I was ofered the opportunity I asked them and Nigora’s opinion. I was kind of hoping they’d say no, but everyone was encouraging so there was no way out!
I have no fears being underground or covered in rats, I think I can handle all of it so I’m looking forward to the challenges. It’s just being without Nigora that I’m worried about.
So you are not scared of anything? I’ve spent time in the African bush so animals and insects do not bother me, although I might be a right wimp when I get there! I’m very active, but I fancy seeing how far I can push myself with the physical challenges.
What about the mental challenge? If I’d been in Craig Charlesshoes when he was locked in isolation with whining Gemma Collins last year, I’d have told her to shut her b***dy mouth!
Nigora: Duncan’s like a lion in a cage and needs constant stimulation or he goes mad.
Duncan: But I never get bored with Nigora. When we met I said: I can promise you our relationship won’t be boring, and it hasn’t been. I think she fnds it hard to keep up with me!
Is there anything you are apprehensive about?
I’m worried that when I get hungry, I will get bad tempered and have arguments. Most people stuf themselves before they go into the jungle but I have also been eating less to shrink my stomach. Nigora’s already complaining that I’m too skinny. I have been working out with a personal trainer, concentrating on my chest, abs and arms. Being on TV makes you more self- conscious.
What role will you play in the jungle? I’ll take a back seat. I’m sure there’ll be young guns who want to be in charge but I have nothing to prove.
Nigora: [To Duncan] Yes, but you are a natural leader, it is within you.
What kind of people will annoy you?
Attention seekers and people who are terrifed of doing the tasks and constantly complain about the food.
Which comforts will you miss?
I was born into poverty so it is not like I have only known being comfortable, but my biggest concern is that my back goes because I won’t have my proper mattress. I’m taking painkillers with me.
What will be your luxury item?
Hair gel! I will have to ration it out.
Do you think you can win?
I think I can. I’m just going to be myself.
Have any of the Dragons been in touch to wish you luck?
Peter Jones. I also spoke to Kelly Hoppen who said she’d love to do it but is too scared of spiders!
Have you spoken to any previous contestants?
We had a drink with Gillian McKeith [who took part in the 2010 series] and she gave me some practical advice like which bed to pick. Pensioners like me should get frst pick anyway!
Are you going to Australia, Nigora? Yes. I will stay in a hotel but obviously knowing Duncan’s starving while I’m in a hotel will be hard. I’m so emotional about it.
How do you think you will cope, Duncan?
it’s going to be terrible
Nigora: the same! [becomes tearful] i can’t even talk about it. on the one hand i want him to win, but on the other i do not want him to even go in. he’s got to take on the challenge, though. if he does not do it, he’ll always wonder. i’m having nightmares just thinking about being away from him.
Duncan: but we have got many, many years together in the future. this is only four weeks.
You were rumoured to be going into the Jungle as a couple
Duncan: no, we’d fall out if we did! we’d be starving, nigora would be screaming at spiders, it would put a lot of pressure on the relationship to be constantly together.
Nigora: we’re together all the time, though, duncan! you’d think we’d be sick of each other but our relationship is so natural.
Do you worry about Duncan being tempted by other women, Nigora?
no, duncan’s very loyal. i feel his love and that’s enough for me.
What if the situation were reversed?
Duncan: people make moves on nigora all the time but i’m
no, i left DragonsDen [earlier this year] of my own accord and fully expected my profle to go down. if you’d asked me when i quit if i’d ever do reality tv, i’d have said no, but i’m doing this for charity and the challenge. having said that, it’d be nice if we got an advert of the back of the show, maybe for bikinis, and made a s**t load of money [laughs]!
You’re donating your fee to charity
i’m donating it to operation smile it will fund about 125 operations on children with cleft palates. Nigora: i couldn’t be prouder of duncan he’s like my god. i can’t believe the things he’s taking on.
Are you still in the honeymoon stage? Nigora: yes, duncan’s such a romantic.
Duncan: it will be our six-month anniversary on november 18, while i’m in the jungle. i can’t believe we won’t be together for our frst big milestone.
Nigora: we’ll make it up when we see each other!
Are you still trying for a baby?
Duncan: yes, we are actively trying.
Do you worry about being an old dad, Duncan?
yes, i do not want to be an old man with nigora, let alone a
How about marriage?
Duncan: we’re still debating. part of me thinks, why change anything? but marriage is probably the next step.
Nigora: there’s no rush, i’d just like it to happen naturally. getting married would be more for my parents anyway.
Has Duncan met your parents yet, Nigora? legally i can’t go back to Uzbekistan [where she was born and her family lives] without giving up my citizenship.
Duncan: we might meet in portugal or moscow. we have spoken on the phone.
Nigora: dad was telling duncan to be careful in the jungle!
Are you two looking forward to your frst Christmas together?
Duncan: we’ll be at my house in yarm in the north east 16 of us!
Nigora: cooking for 16 might be a bit much so we will go to duncan’s hotel. gaby is spending christmas with her father and new year with us.
Tell us about your holiday in Barbados… Nigora: we wanted to have some family time a treat for duncan before the jungle. Duncan: we went jet-skiing, waterskiing, swam with the turtles and ate at amazing restaurants. in the mornings we worked out with a personal trainer then spent the day on the beach and had very, very confdent. we are made child! i hope to live spa treatments in the evening. perfect! for each other. neither of us are jealous.
Nigora: i couldn’t be with somebody possessive. i’ve had that in previous relationships. to be 100.
Nigora: it’s incredible how young duncan is in his mind, though. a lot of people his i’m a celebrity get me oUt of here!is on itv every night at 9pm. with thanks to royal westmoreland barbados.
Are you trying to revamp your TV career after leaving
sofa and eat biscuits, but duncan’s not interview by clare geraghty photographs by leslie st john additional photograph by vantagenews.com hair by rebekah d’andrade make-Up by tessa vaUghan