For those who aren’t Australian, it’s hard to describe exactly how big the Big Brother phenomenon was. In what seemed like overnight, stars were made and careers were launched. It fell almost as quickly as it rose, but Big Brother still managed to impact Australian pop culture, whether it be introducing language to pop culture (“Game on, moles”, the ‘turkey slap’, etc.) or giving ordinary Australians the chance to rise into fame (Sara-Marie’s bum dance). No contestant achieved more lasting fame out of the Big Brother experience than one Chrissie Swan, who shot into the slot of Australia’s Oprah with aplomb.
So it was natural that, over a decade later, when her season’s executive producer was casting for the premiere series of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, someone so iconic would be on the shortlist. Having gone from nobody to famous Australian celebrity over the course of several months in 2003, Chrissie Swan was chosen to help christen the series with a month-long extension of her Big Brother stint, which she once again did so with the same amount of gutso and righteousness she put into her first foray. She made herself the centre of many a self-depreciating fat joke. She formed a wonderfully holy trinity alliance of herself, Maureen and Joel, heaven sent on mocking the self-serious men of their season. She was so good at mocking them or selling her friends jokes at their expense she would lose her breath for extended periods of time as she laughed.
It’s hard to describe exactly how good the Chrissie Swan experience was in words or moments, because Chrissie Swan is such an eternally Australian figure that it’s hard to do her justice. If there had to be a single moment, however, to describe Chrissie Swan and her entire down-to-earth demeanour, it would definitely be her finale performance where she was reunited with her son Leo, which was simply wraught with every kind of positive emotion.
Put simply, if you liked her in Big Brother Australia 2003, you would like her just as much in the new, celebrity-filled environment because it was so much of the same – whether that means “better” or “worse” is up to the viewer.