I'm A Celebrity's Fleur East says 'Jungle dad' Harry Redknapp kept her smiling after record deal axe left her at rock bottom

I'm A Celebrity's Fleur East says 'Jungle dad' Harry Redknapp kept her smiling after record deal axe left her at rock bottom

Former footie manager Harry, 71, forged a close bond with X Factor singer Fleur, 31, before her exit on Saturday night.

In an exclusive interview, she said of her fellow East Londoner: “Harry was like a father figure to me in camp. He is a similar age to my dad.

“He was my biggest supporter in there. Anytime I went to do a challenge he would give me an amazing pep talk. He believed in me so much.

“I used to sit next to Harry in awe. It was storytime with Hazza around the campfire every night. He’s so much fun. He’s got such a zest for life, he’s 71 and has had a life-changing experience.”

Fleur told how she feared her music career was over after losing her record deal with Simon Cowell’s label Syco earlier this year.

She said: “The music industry is so cut-throat. I thought, ‘How the hell do I come back from this? Is this the end?’ I didn’t have the strength to pull myself back up. I was down for a while.”

But she said her family — plus boyfriend of seven years, Marcel Badiane-Robin — helped her get through it, along with her stint in the jungle.

She added: “I’m A Celebrity came along at the right time and lifted me up. This whole experience in the jungle has made me a lot stronger.”

Fleur narrowly missed out on a place in last night’s final — featuring Emily Atack, 29, John Barrowman, 51, and former Spurs boss Harry.

Despite her cheery determination, Fleur admits having low moments on the ITV show, even shedding tears when narrowly missing out on a letter from home.

She revealed: “I cried a couple of times in the Bush Telegraph when I thought about my family. Especially when I didn’t get my letter from home. That was really hard, I didn’t want to ruin it for everyone, but after they had all read their letters I was gutted I didn’t get mine.

“But Harry made me laugh again. We bonded about being from the East End. We had so much in common. I’ve got a sixth sense about how to gauge people, I’ve never been wrong.”

She says  it was inspirational to meet Harry’s wife of 51 years, Sandra. She said: “When he talks about her my heart just melts. After so many years to be so in love, that’s what everyone wants.”

Fleur says marriage and kids are “on the cards” with fashion designer Marcel — but their careers take priority for now.

She said: “Harry kept saying, ‘Your boyfriend’s so lucky, you can sing and dance to him everyday.’ But he’s so over it.

“I wasn’t sure about doing the jungle but he told me to go for it. It’s hard to find someone who is so secure in themselves and confident to push you.”

Fleur threw herself into the trials but feared she would drown in the Rotten Retrieval task. However stand-in host Holly Willoughby’s calming voice helped her pull through.

She said: “Going underwater was my worst nightmare. I felt I was going to drown. I was hyperventilating and Holly was saying, ‘Breathe, calm down.’ I was taking really short breaths, panicking, so her coaching me through was amazing. Holly’s voice was so calming it was therapeutic.”

Fleur, who lost 11lbs in camp, went on: “I don’t want to lose my curves. I’ve always had chunky thighs, a bum and I’ve always embraced it.”

She also suffered an allergic reaction to biting ants which were unleashed on her four times in trials. She said: “I still have dark spots on my arm, my whole skin was in hives. it was awful.”

Fleur is now concentrating on relaunching her singing career — and shot a music video the day before she left for the jungle.

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She said: “The new song is tribal, anthemic and has a nod to my mum’s upbringing in Ghana. It’s uplifiting and feelgood, I can’t wait for people to hear it.” She also insists there are no hard feelings to Cowell, who joked about an X Factor contestant “drinking worm juice in two years”.

She said of the show: “It got me where I am today. People would miss it if it wasn’t around anymore.”

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