I’m A Celebrity’s Anne Hegerty tells of friendless childhood and her dad’s belief in her

As brave Anne Hegerty takes on the jungle challenge, no one would be prouder than her late dad Ken.

The 60-year-old, who stars in hit ITV quiz show The Chase, says he always told her she could accomplish anything she set her heart on doing.

His words drove her on as she coped with her Asperger’s – which was not diagnosed until 2005, when she was 47.

And although she lost Ken last year, she knows he would have been right behind her appearance in the I’m a Celebrity jungle.

Anne said: “My dad was the one who told me ‘You can do this’ and ‘I’m sure one day you will accomplish something.’

“He died last September. I got on well with him. He was such a pain in so many ways but he was the only person who told me I could do things.

I'm A Celebrity's Anne Hegerty tells of friendless childhood and her dad's belief in her

Emily Atack and Anne Hegerty cling for comfort in the jungle
(Image: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

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“He was thrilled about my success and I wish I had more time to spend with him. He would have liked that.

“Some charity would take him out for tea and he would be boasting about me all the time. I think he would have preferred me to have been on Eggheads – he liked The Chase because I’m on it but he adored Eggheads. His entire afternoon schedule was based on going to sleep and waking up in time for Eggheads.”

ITV bosses have told Anne they will monitor her more closely than other campmates due to her autism. Insiders say there are concerns she could quit after breaking down just hours in. Speaking before the show, she said: “The bosses seem more anxious than I do. They keep saying you must say if there’s a problem and I keep saying, ‘Well, I’ll be fine.’ And they keep saying, ‘No, you have to promise’.

I'm A Celebrity's Anne Hegerty tells of friendless childhood and her dad's belief in her

Anne Hegerty in 1983 when she was a journalist
(Image: South Wales Argus)

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“Being surrounded by people I can’t get away from or those who talk all the time can be a source of stress.”

On last night’s show, Anne spoke of how she is a hoarder as a result of her condition. She said: “An OCD person would not like my house. I just get ­overwhelmed by all the things there are to do, I’m like, I have no idea.”

And in an interview last year she spoke of the other problems autism can create for her. Anne said: “I can’t multi-task, I can’t juggle things. If I’ve got something looming, it’s difficult to get anything done before then.

“Looking around me right now, there are plates that want washing up, there’s shopping to put away. This is not just normal slobbery. This is extreme, what they call executive dysfunction.”

She has also previously told of how she was friendless in her childhood.

I'm A Celebrity's Anne Hegerty tells of friendless childhood and her dad's belief in her

Emily Atack facing The Viper Pit – one of their jungle challenges
(Image: James Gourley/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Anne said: “I didn’t really have friends. I didn’t really want them. I couldn’t really see the point of friends.

“One reason I’ve always had difficulty relating to women is this tendency they have to want to be close and chatty. I get on better with men, I understand their need to disappear into their man-cave because I need to do that too.”

The Chase star Jenny Ryan, 36, defended Anne after a social media user said she should be able to cope with I’m a Celebrity as she is “getting well paid”.

Calling her “incredibly brave”, Jenny said: “It’s so much more of a challenge for the Governess than you presume.”

And The Chase’s Shaun Wallace, 58, told her: “We are all rooting for you!”

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