The executive producer of Network Ten reality series I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here has revealed the real reason he believes tennis player Bernard Tomic left the show after only three nights.
Speaking to Nova 96.9’s Fitzy and Wippa on Wednesday, Network Ten’s Alex Mavridarkis said Tomic considered bailing on the show three days before he left for South Africa because watching the Australian Open gave him doubts about his career future.
“He told me – and I believe him – that he composed a text message to me three days before he got on the plane [saying] that he changed his mind and didn’t want to do it,” Mavridarkis said.
“He’s obviously not in the right headspace at all. I think watching the Australian Open play out – he said to me that he beat [Marin] Cilic the last two times he played him and he beat the South Korean [Chung Hyeon] guy last time he played him and he was in the semi-final.
“I think that really affected him I think that was the wake-up call [thinking], ‘I should be in the Australian Open semi-final’.”
Upon leaving the show during Tuesday night’s episode after just three nights in the jungle, Tomic told hosts Julia Morris and Chris Brown he had been feeling depressed and had made a mistake by coming on the show.
“I thought by coming here it would make me a super happy person, but it didn’t. I made the wrong move and I regret it. But I’ve gotta live with it and I’ve gotta get back to tennis,” he said.
— #ImACelebrityAU (@ImACelebrityAU) January 30, 2018
Mavridarkis also said Tomic was discouraged by his poor performance in the first two trials, which saw him get bitten by snakes and jump out of a helicopter.
Some viewers criticised Ten for placing someone in a vulnerable emotional state under physical duress, but Mavridarkis said the show’s producers, “make no apologies”.
“We wanted to test him. Half of me is angry with him because he’s messed up a lot of plans we had in place and half of me wishes him the best because he’s obviously confused at where he is in life and he’s got this freakish talent and he just wants to get back and play tennis.”
Mavridarkis refused to comment on speculation Tomic’s exit meant he’s forfeited his pay cheque, which was estimated to be around $1 million.
“I would never comment on any of the celebrities’ pay cheques but I’ll give you Brendan Fevola and Shane Warne’s numbers and I guarantee they’ll spill the beans for you,” he told Fitzy and Wippa.
Fevola, who won the second season of the show, said on his Fox FM radio show that the I’m a Celebrity contract stipulates, “you’ve got to do two weeks and then you get paid your money”.
“He will get no money. If you leave, you don’t get any money. So that’s the incentive to stay,” Fevola said.
Tomic’s swift departure has raised concerns for his mental health.
“Sometimes I think he’s a bit sad and that saddens me,” fellow contestant Jackie Gillies said after his departure.
Channel Nine host Ben Fordham posted a tweet apologising for making fun of Tomic’s short stint on the show in light of the tennis star claiming he was depressed, while psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg tweeted he “wasn’t happy” with the “setting up” of Tomic on the show.
I bagged Bernard Tomic on radio today for quitting the jungle. He’s revealed tonight he was depressed in there and that’s why he’s left. If that’s the case then I apologise for my earlier judgement.
— BenFordham (@BenFordham) January 30, 2018