Christie Richie spoke of her joy at seeing Shane, 56, get to the final stages of the show and looking like the man she fancied when they first fell in love.
She has seen him roll back the years, losing weight and growing in confidence, having initially had reservations about doing the series because fans would see his personality, warts and all.
Shocked Christie said: “I am really surprised at how different he looks. We knew he would lose some weight and in some respects he went in there looking at it like a boot camp.”
She added: “To see that jawline after all these years, it was like greeting an old friend! I haven’t seen it in years. I wonder if he can keep all the weight off.
“He needs a good shave and a good scrub and a haircut but it does remind me of the old days when we first got together. I think he will love the way he looks and be thankful to have lost some weight.”
Shane, known to millions as EastEnders’ character Alfie Moon, started the series being chosen for trial after trial but overcame them all and became the joker who kept spirits up in camp.
But behind the bravado and songs, we can reveal Shane was concerned how people would react to seeing him and not Alfie, the soap character he is best known for on screen in recent years.
Christie added: “Hand on heart he will, excuse the pun, be ‘over the moon’ that people have taken the time to vote for him.”
She went on: “I can imagine him being completely blown away and thankful for the love and support he’s getting. It’s scary to be yourself for all to see and judge, after years of being able to hide behind acting roles and he was genuinely worried that people wouldn’t take to him.
“He was really nervous about that. He wanted to be himself and he has been, there are no airs or graces, but he should be really proud of how he has been true to himself.
“To come this far is a dream though. He was a winner the moment he walked through the castle doors. Seeing that twinkle in his eye again has been wonderful.
“I definitely think Shane’s grown as a person in there. I imagine having so much time with your own thoughts leads to some soul searching for them all. He’ll also be the spider catcher at home from now on. That used to be my role.
“He’s overcome so many fears in there and I believe he’s grown as a person because of it.”
Going into the show Shane had been mainly working in theatre productions in recent years, but he seems certain to be returning to TV roles next year.
On what he might do next, Christie said: “We’ve been huge fans of this show since it began so this was a big deal for him. The show has reached a record audience this year which is incredible and it would be great to think that whatever Shane did next he’d take some of that audience on the journey with him.
“I love watching Shane most when he hosts a programme and can be himself. He has a lovely way of making people feel at ease and open up to him, cue the hammock of truth. If the series had gone on longer, I wonder what other secrets would have been told to him on there.”
Christie and Shane first met in a pub in 2001 when he was doing pantomime in Wimbledon and they were introduced by friends. In camp Shane told how it was love at first sight and they married in 2007 and have three children – Mackenzie-Blue, 14, Lolita-Belle, 12, and Romanie-Skye, nine.
Christie said she and their three children have loved watching Shane on the show but it has not always been easy and the house feels quiet without him.
She said: “Honestly I found the entire experience a lot tougher than I thought. We’ve been living on our nerves and not sleeping much for the last three weeks.
“I have been wondering if he’s really ok, hoping all the campmates are lovely and all get on and willing them to win stars so they can eat properly. It’s so hard to watch the person you love upset and not being able to comfort them. You feel helpless.
“The children honestly couldn’t be prouder of their Daddy. Mackenzie said the other day what made him proud was how he’s been true to himself and that he’s shown us all how funny he is but also how kind and caring he can be.
“The girls were so proud when he supported Jordan and Jess through the trials although Lolita was absolutely mortified at the ‘pull my finger’ joke! He’d broken the 1st rule of the booklet!
“We all had a laugh and a cry at the same time. We are so unbelievably proud of him and to get to the final four is just incredible.”
Last night the family were again preparing to settle down and watch Shane on the show, but with particular relish. The children were desperately hoping he made it through to do the Celebrity Cyclone trial and Christie added: “The kids are beside themselves with excitement that he’s doing it. Christmas has most definitely come early.
“The cyclone is the most iconic trial for celeb jungle and to watch Shane all dressed up in Lycra looking like a comedy superhero will be hilarious. I wonder if he’s got a surprise six pack or if he’ll look more like Del Boy.
“When it’s all finished we are looking forward to having him home. The kids have said they can’t wait to give him the biggest cuddles, tell him how much they love him.
“I hope that he’ll be able to wash up a little better but we shall see. Vernon has been teaching him how to mop up so perhaps he will come back a cleaning freak. We can but hope!”
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