Gran wants Joe to be jungle king

THE grandmother of former EastEnders star Joe Swash has spoken of her pride as he vies to be crowned television's King of the Jungle tonight.

Dave Gooderham

THE grandmother of former EastEnders star Joe Swash has spoken of her pride as he vies to be crowned television's King of the Jungle tonight.

The 26-year-old actor will be battling it out with two other celebrities in the final of popular reality show I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!

And he has no bigger fan than his grandmother, Francis O'Connor, from Thetford, who has been gripped by his ordeal in the Australian jungle.

Mrs O'Connor said: “I have loved every minute of Joe on the show. We have watched it every night and I am so very proud of him because what you see is what you get - and that is Joe all over.

“I think that is why he has been popular and not been voted out as he is not playing a game, he is just being himself. We are not saying he will win, we just wanted him to do his best and he has certainly done that. Whether he wins or not doesn't matter - it would just be a bonus.”

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Joe has consistently been one of the series' most popular contestants - whether tacking his fear of heights, eating the private parts of crocodiles and kangaroos or even coping with the mind games of David Van Day.

And Mrs O'Connor admitted even she had been surprised by some of her grandson's antics on the show.

“Until the other night, I never knew he could cope with heights,” said Mrs O'Connor, referring to one of the jungle trials that saw her grandson suspended more than 100 feet in the air.

She said seeing Joe in the jungle had been wonderful: “It has been absolutely amazing watching him and I have been on the edge of my seat. He has surprised even me with how well he has done in some of the tasks.

“He knew what he was letting himself in for when he went on the show. But he didn't have any ulterior motives, he just wanted to do it for the experience.”

Joe, who was popular EastEnders character Mickey Miller, is expected to return to the UK on Monday.

His jungle antics have been cheered on by his large family including mother, Kiffy Swash , who went to St Benedict's School, in Bury St Edmunds, and his sister Shana, who played his screen sibling, Demi, in the BBC1 soap.

Mrs O'Connor said: “I can't tell you how proud we all are and we are over the moon that he has done so well. I am little worried that he has lost a few pounds and he looks tired.

“His mother is immensely proud of him and just wants to see him when he comes home and cook him a roast dinner, like she promised. We are a very close family and we do miss him.”

In October 2005, Swash, who has a young son, was rushed to hospital after he was diagnosed with potentially fatal meningitis. But he battled back to full health and returned to the popular soap before leaving in February.

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