O’Loughlin had talked frankly throughout the series about the effects of her alcoholism while never losing the dry wit which found her fame as a comedian in the first place.
By anyone’s measure, she has completed an incredible personal journey on the show.
When earlier asked how the jungle experience compared to battling her alcoholism, she replied: “There were comparisons to rehab, I was in a long-term rehab, so there were – that was almost an advantage for me. I have done without my phone and without contact, without – my own – well, basically freedoms.
“… But without a doubt the jungle has changed me.”
During her time on the South African set of the series, she formed a close bond with fellow comedian Peter Rowsthorn, with the pair creating two characters ‘Ron and Brenda’.
Some viewers have even suggested the pair should have their own television show based on the characters.
Chris Brown and Julia Morris hosted the grand finale on the South African set of the show, in front of a crowd of family and friends of the remaining contestants. Previously eliminated contestants including Peter Rowsthorn, Josh Morris and Simone Holtznagel were in the audience.
Ahead of O’Loughlin being announced as the winner on Monday night’s episode, the remaining three finalists talked of transformation on the Network Ten show.
“It’s been an incredible experience … it’s helped me learn a hell of a lot about what’s really true and what’s important in life,” Green said.
“I think it’s great to really test yourself because that’s how you find out what you’re really made of,” said Noll.
Noll said he was hoping for first place after being named runner-up on Australian Idol in 2003. “I’d love to not come second this time,” the 42-year-old said.
O’Loughlin joked she needed “a Guy Sebastian wig” when she realised she was one of the final two contestants. She won anyway, without it.
Her victory in the fourth series of the Australian show follows on from the crowning of Freddie Flintoff, Brendan Fevola and Casey Donovan in the first three series.
Before the final voting results were revealed, the show’s finalists were treated to one last tucker trial, based on a giant slip n’slide, while wearing white Lycra body suits. Hosts Morris and Brown joined in too.
The finalists also received video messages from other high-profile Australians.
Singer Paul Kelly sent a good luck message to Fiona O’Loughlin, surfer Mick Fanning said he was voting for Danny Green and Guy Sebastian sent a message of support to Shannon Noll.
Green said he would tell other high-profile sportspeople to enter the jungle if they had the chance. “I would highly recommend it,” he said.
In spite of Green’s enthusiasm about the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”, Ten’s producers had earlier faced the shock departures of high-profile sports stars Bernard Tomic and Anthony Mundine in the first fortnight of this series.
Morris and Brown referenced the controversial departures by saying all the contestants had hoped for first prize except for “those guys”.
The introduction of David and Lisa Oldfield was a flop but the inclusion of British contestants Paul Burrell and Vicky Pattison (who finished fourth) was a success with Australian viewers.
Brown said the show had received 40 per cent more votes than any other series of the Australian version of I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!
O’Loughlin’s prize of $100,000 goes to the charity Angel Flight.
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