HER brown jacket had LADY C clearly stamped on the back – but even from the rear there was no mistaking the husky, imperious tones of Lady Colin Campbell when she appeared in ITV’s 15th series of I’m a Celebrity….Get Me out of Here! But it was a bit of a shock when she faced the camera. There’s nothing more ageing in a 66-year-old than creased khaki, sweaty skin and the lack of the industrial strength hair products that she normally uses for public appearances.
While at first viewers adored her outrageous statements, the love affair faded. Rows with the other contestants including Duncan Bannatyne and Tony Hadley did not show Lady C at her best. Her refusal to do the Panic Pit Bushtucker trial which meant being put in a coffin-like den (she claims one of her relatives was buried alive) marked her as a bad sport as well as a snob and you can be one or the other but not both if you want to please the couch sadists who watch this stuff. For all that, Lady C lasted 17 weeks and beat Chris Eubank to 8th place. By the time she left, citing ill health, viewers had had quite enough of her aristocratic mumbo jumbo and five tiaras, but there’s no as such thing bad publicity and within two months, she had hopped over to the BBC donning her Royal Biographer hat (or rather tiara) to appear in a new docu-drama called Wives at War about the Queen Mother and her relationship with Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.
Lady C, briefly married to Lord Colin Ivar Campbell, a cousin of the Queen (hence the title) is the author of books about Princess Diana – whom she blamed for the breakdown of her marriage.
This was good enough for the ratings-hungry Beeb to air her claims that the Queen Mother, when young and single, wanted to marry Edward (then known as David), rather than his less glamorous, stuttering brother Bertie.
“She tried to marry David. He wasn’t interested in her. He liked them slender, sleek and svelte, like Wallis,” Lady C told the cameras, landing her once more dans une soupe royale with the Daily Mail.
All this is quite a turnaround from last year, when I first met Lady C at a ladies lunch. She had just bought a dilapidated Grade I listed building near Worthing called Castle Goring with the intention of doing it up. Having acquired the crumbling pile at auction for £700,000, it needed more than twice that much spent on it – the castle has one bathroom only. Clement Somerset, the previous owner, blamed the cost of restoration for the sale. It had been in the Somerset family for over 200 years.
At the party, she said she would have dropped the title years ago – she was only married to Lord Campbell for a year – but the press insist on using it. “But you can call me Georgi,” she added. She regaled the table with stories of the Jamaican workers who were helping (or possibly hindering) the restoration and her constant run-ins with English Heritage over what she could and could not do to the property. It was, she said, completely absurd. “It’s my house. They said I could not put loos in downstairs. I told the young woman who came: ‘You certainly look as if you live in a house with only one loo but I can assure you I have always had them on every floor.”
The valuable I’m A Celebrity contract will no doubt help pay for the the restoration where she lives in the only habitable part with her ‘gusband’ or gay partner Peter Coleman (below): she told the local press as much saying that she took up the offer to head down under for ITV to pay for a new roof.
Her biography, A Life Worth Living, tells the story of how how she was born with a malformation of the genitals which led to her parents, desperate for a boy, bringing her up as George Ziadie. An operation at 21 restored her femininity but she probably wears the trousers in Worthing. I can’t wait to see inside the castle, which was built in imitation of Arundel Castle but I have been firmly told that I will have to wait. “We are not quite ready to receive yet,” she told me, imperiously.