Nick Knowles’s secret obsession that he admits should get him arrested

The new I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here jungle camp leader Nick Knowles is known, of course, for his DIY skill , his enthusiasm for the fairer sex , and his musical gifts .

But there’s another secret side of the I’m A Celeb star that is more often overlooked. His mania for top hats.

He first started collecting the eccentric headwear in his late twenties, and now has over a dozen top hats in his collection.

He’s even had some custom-made in order to achieve his ambition of owning his dream design – a Mad Hatter-style topper with a ‘belled’ top; a top hat where the crown is wider than the hatband.

Nick Knowles's secret obsession that he admits should get him arrested

If you want to get ahead, wear a hat…
(Image: Rupert Hartley/David Hartley/REX)

 
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In an interview from 2011 Nick predicted that toppers would make a comeback ‘in the next five years.’

The DIY enthusiast told the Daily Express: “I’ve even had a go at making top hats myself and one year I made one for my girlfriend, again that was to wear to Ascot. It was a lot of effort but I’m glad I gave it a go as it was really interesting to find out exactly what the process involves.”

Nick Knowles's secret obsession that he admits should get him arrested

In the jungle, Nick’s opting for the more practical "I’m A Celeb" fedora
(Image: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

 
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Many of his hats, though, are made for him by specialists: "The hats I’ve ordered from Patey’s are beautifully made but they are not cheap. They cost about £400 or £500 each but they are the real deal, not just for fancy dress. I am getting one made for Ascot, it is black with a belled top."

Nick Knowles's secret obsession that he admits should get him arrested

Nick, wearing one of his beloved toppers, with wife Jessica attending Ladies Day at Royal Ascot

 

One of Nick’s custom-made hats, dark brown belled-top John Bull-style topper that cost him £560 is, he says, his absolute favourite and the one that he’d save if his house was on fire.

Nick’s great dream, though, is to own a vintage American model: “The top hat I would most like to get hold of is a George V-style one that is particularly tall, cream and US-made.

Nick Knowles's secret obsession that he admits should get him arrested

Nick favours a bell-shaped hat
(Image: BPI/REX/Shutterstock)

 

"It is very belled-top and about half the size of a standard top hat. That would cost thousands and they don’t come up for sale very often unfortunately.”

The topper was – at least apocryphally – devised by a London milliner named John Hetherington who caused such dismay when he first wore it in public that he precipitated a minor riot and was arrested.

Nick jokingly says he deserves the same fate: “My girlfriend pretty much thinks I should be arrested when I go out wearing mine but she puts up with it because she knows I am eccentric.”