Victoria Derbyshire’s friend Helen Lederer says breast cancer has made I’m A Celeb star fearless

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Helen Lederer has done her fair share of reality TV – from appearing on Splash! in 2013 and entering the Celebrity Big Brother house in 2017, to stripping off for charity in The Real Full Monty in 2018.

It was in the latter that the actress met Victoria Derbyshire, but Helen says she won’t be following in the footsteps of her friend as a contestant on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

“‘Bring it on’ has been Victoria’s mission statement,” says Helen, 66, of the broadcaster. “She asks a lot of herself, which we saw on the show. She expects to do well and doesn’t like to fail.”


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The writer and comedian, who is best known for playing Catriona in Absolutely Fabulous, thinks it was this determined nature coupled with Victoria, 52, overcoming breast cancer in 2016 that pushed her to take part in the ITV show.

“Victoria is a fearless woman,” says Helen, who launched the Comedy Women In Print Prize in 2018 to celebrate comedic female writers. “I think cancer has made Victoria fearless, because you think, ‘Well what’s the worst that can happen?’”

Here, Helen tells us about Victoria’s courageous personality, and what she thinks she’ll do next…

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Do you think Victoria has had fun being able to show a different side of herself on I’m A Celebrity?

I think that’s what she’s enjoyed about it. The show gave her permission to be childish as on TV she’s always had to be serious. As she has a serious job she was attracted to doing something completely different.

Have we seen the real Victoria?

She was hard on herself when the women lost the Bushtucker Trial against the men, and she does ask a lot of herself, which we saw on the show. She expects to do well and, I mean, who likes failing? But Victoria doesn’t like to fail. She’s a very focused person.

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Was overcoming breast cancer one of her motivations for doing the show?

I’m sure having had that illness and going public on the process of her recovery was part of it. Her character is a netball captain at school or the head girl, the person who goes, “Sod it, I’m doing it!” That’s very much how she was when we were doing The Real Full Monty. I was the fat one cowering in the back, thinking, “I know I will never learn these steps,” whereas Victoria was one of the leaders. I’ve always seen her as a leader and she’s very determined.

Do you think what she’s been through has made her fearless?

Yes, cancer has made her fearless, because you go, “Well what’s the worst that can happen?” In life, that’s quite a useful motivator when you find yourself doing something out of your comfort zone. I think she’s saying, “Bring it on.” “Bring it on” has been Victoria’s mission statement and good on her!

How do you think Victoria has done on I’m A Celebrity?

Very well, especially in the trials. She goes for it and there is a lack of fear – Victoria is a fearless woman. She seems to be getting on with Beverley [Callard] and Ruthie [Henshall] – they’re a group of strong women.


What’s next for Victoria?

She presents the news but I think doing her own show would be her ideal – that’s what she’s good at. I can’t see her being in a musical or anything like that! They’re all there to get platforms, and that isn’t a criticism. It’s an opportunity for people to reflect and think, “What do I want to do next? How do I want to come across?” When I did Splash! I was asked on the radio why I did it and I said, “For the money”. In those days people didn’t say that so everyone was shocked.

Would you ever do I’m A Celebrity?

I think I’ve had my reality-show fix. On Splash! I was a middle-aged person in a swimming costume, which was very depressing, then on Celebrity Big Brother it was volatile and I was surrounded by people arguing, and then I did The Real Full Monty. On I’m A Celebrity I would not be competent at the tasks and I’m vain enough to not want to be sent to Coventry by a group of people I wasn’t getting stars for! I would not contribute usefully to the group.

For more information on the Comedy Women in Print Prize, visit comedywomeninprint.co.uk

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