Get me out of here!

PUBLISHED: 12:06 09 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:36 03 March 2010

REALITY TV show 'I'm a Celebrity get me out of here!' was not the first time that King of the Jungle Tony Blackburn had cause to shout those now-immortal words.

REALITY TV show 'I'm a Celebrity get me out of here!' was not the first time that King of the Jungle Tony Blackburn had cause to shout those now-immortal words.

Back in January 1966, as a young DJ aboard pirate radio ship Radio Caroline he didn't possess the same survival skills as he showed the nation when nervously handling snakes, and teetering over leech-infested waters this week.

36 years ago, he found himself at the centre of a rescue drama when the vessel ran aground off the coast of Frinton, in Essex.

It was an incident that saw him become the last ever person to be rescued by Thames coastguard with the use of a breeches buoy.

The system, by which he and other DJs including Dave Lee Travis were winched from the Mi Amigo was scrapped in 1988, having never been used again.

At the time of the decision to end the use of the rocket-launched system, involving the launcher, lifebelt and yards of cord, Tony recalled the Frinton drama as "absolutely frightening".

He told the Evening Star: "I was asleep in my cabin when two of the other DJs came down and told me the boat was adrift and I should get up.

"I thought it was just a joke because we were always playing practical jokes on each other. So I stayed in bed – I was doing the breakfast show and needed all the sleep I could get.

"But a few minutes later the captain of the ship came down to say we really were in trouble. I went up on deck and we were surrounded by the lights of Frinton.

"The next thing I knew there were waves crashing over the boat and there was this terrible crunching sound as we ran aground."

For the past two weeks, however, Tony has shown no desire to be rescued despite being stranded in the Australian rainforest with only seven other celebrities and a jungle of snakes and creepy crawlies to keep him company.

He has had the nation laughing with him – or maybe at him – with his antics and quips. He had people bemused and in stitches with his ever-growing obsession with logs. "I just loved those logs," he said last night.

And he coined a new catchphrase when he pointed at the rain filled sky and proclaimed "Stop-a-doodle-doo".

Having won the support of the nation, Tony was last night crowned King of the Jungle, winning 55 per cent of the 1.5 million calls to the ITV1 programme, I'm A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!, and beating It-Girl Tara Palmer-Tomkinson in the process.

He had endured the volatile bickering of his fellow celebrities, he had tolerated the childish eccentricities of Tara and he had done it all with a smile and the ability to crack a joke – no matter how naff – whenever the need arose.

He had survived and the viewing public was ready to reward him for that.


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