Old dog learns new tricks

I’ve never been a fan of Steve Price but, after watching his recent stint in the jungle, it appears I may have been too quick to judge this book by its cover.

One of the 12 original ‘celebrities’ to be dropped into the South African jungle as part of I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, Steve Price was the oldest, and perhaps one of the most recognisable contestants to take on the challenge. I could actually feel myself frown inwardly when I realised that, if I wanted to watch the only reality television show in which I allow myself to indulge, I would have to put up with this curmudgeon, whose life views couldn’t be further from my own.

And it seems I wasn’t the only one. Most of his 11 fellow jungle mates clearly felt the same – except perhaps US actor Tom Arnold, who had no idea who Steve Price was and couldn’t believe this is what we call a ‘shock jock’.

For the first few weeks it seemed I was right in my initial, if quick judgment about Jungle Steve. He rubbed people up the wrong way and, seemingly, took the opposing point of view to spite those who were struggling with their primitive surroundings.

However, over time there were a few glimpses of the man behind the crotchety celeb persona. His Jungle Radio Show proved that he could listen and ask insightful questions, as he coerced his fellow campmates to spill their life stories. And when he found out his granddaughter had taken her first steps, his touching response showed his softer side. 

But it was the last few days, when the group started to whittle down to just a few, that Steve actually began to enjoy himself. Maybe he’s just not great in larger groups?

For me, it was intriguing to watch the hardened layers of Steve Price peel away. Much was made of his friendship with young Muslim comedian Nazeem Hussain and, on the face of it, they both learned a lot about accepting opposing views. However, we shouldn’t forget that, while some perhaps entered the jungle to boost a failing career, they were all there to win money for their chosen charity.

Steve was flying the flag for Beanies 4 Brain Cancer, a charity started by his The Project co-host Carrie Bickmore. And when voted out last week, it was clear how much supporting Carrie and the charity meant to him. Fighting back tears, he called on the corporate sponsors of his radio show to chip in and make up the $100,000 on which he missed out.

On a personal level, Steve was able to admit that he’d changed and “hoped that he had set an example for older Australians that you can change bad habits”.

Is the real Steve Price the compassionate man who emerged from the jungle? Or will we soon see the return to the confrontational shock jock?

Who knows? But I for one will, every now and again, be tuning in to see if he’s followed his own example and left his bad habits behind him for good.

Written by Debbie McTaggart

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