Val Savage would love a friendly hug like the I’m A Celeb stars (Image: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)
I’ve done everything I can to stay upbeat while home alone throughout lockdown.
I’ve jived to my old music, impersonated Tina Turner, chatted to the wildlife in my garden and whipped off my bra to relax in the ultimate comfort.
And now something new in the last week has done more to cheer me up than anything else in months: I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!
Even the advert, with its voiceover in a lilting Welsh voice, makes me smile. And hearing the theme tune, which I’ve been waiting for all day, gets my heart pumping.
The opening shots of sweeping countryside from helicopters made my eyes fill with tears of pride at the wild beauty of Wales. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world.
Val has loved seeing Jordan North being hugged and supported by the friendly I'm a Celebrity gang
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The celebrities all seem a genuine, friendly bunch, and it’s fantastic to see them hugging and supporting each other when everyone is craving a cuddle and companionship.
I love to see that living back to basics in the castle is a great leveller. Perhaps Hollie Arnold might realise she’s just Hollie, the very same as you and me, and can drop the constant MBE mentions.
Fame counts for nothing in there and people who mightn’t be as well known as some of the others, like Jordan North, can become the biggest stars.
The moment poor Jordan was sick as a dog before abseiling down the mountain was the instant I knew he’d be voted in for every trial. We all like a laugh, even if we can be a bit cruel.
And I could’ve eaten Shane in a butty when he was so patient with Jordan during the snakes-in-a-coffin trial when the poor lad had a meltdown. Bless him.
Shane is another favourite of Val's
Robbie Savage's mum Val had a huge phone bill voting for her son on Strictly
Robbie Savage's mum Val on the spooky meeting she had with a spirit medium
I always ask myself during the trials – could I do one? I don’t even like to be in a lift on my own and when I’m in the one in Marks and Spencer I hold the door open until someone else comes in.
So I couldn’t have gone into a coffin below the ground like Shane and Jordan. I’d have rather eaten a sheep’s testicle – I’d tell myself it was a pork chop with apple sauce and just chew.
The show brings out sides of people often hidden. It’s a joy to see Victoria Derbyshire’s bubbly fun side which her BBC journalist role couldn’t show. I was crying laughing at her Lidl joke – and the fact Sir Mo Farah doesn’t get anyone’s jokes.
When Victoria asked reluctant Shane Richie to help her empty the contents of the privy, I thought it’s always women who can just get on with these things with a steel stomach. It shows nappy-changing experience and our inner strength.
I feel proud to know producers chose Gwrych Castle above all the other castles in Britain, and grateful they spent endless amounts of time and money to get it looking so spectacular. It’s fantastic for the area and the locals are beside themselves.
Val loves Sir Mo Farah's beautiful smile – but he doesn't seem to get any jokes
Robbie Savage's mum Val on why this year's Poppy appeal means more than ever
Robbie Savage's mum Val tells all about her visit behind the scenes at Strictly
Finally, after ten months of every day blending in to the next, I’ve got strict structure to each day.
I have my tea earlier than usual and schedule my afternoon nap to make sure I’m wide awake and don’t miss a second of the show. And if anyone calls me even 20 minutes before it starts, they have no chance of a chat.
Hollywood's hallowed ground
Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have bought non-league Wrexham Football Club
(Image: Getty Images)
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As if the buzz of I’m a Celebrity nearby wasn’t enough to perk me up, Hollywood superstars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have bought non-league Wrexham Football Club.
It’s the third oldest football club in the world and the one my late husband Colin supported all his life. We even had a few early dates at what Colin called “the hallowed turf”.
The club is already seeing the effects of the starry takeover. Wrexham usually sell 25 shirts, but sold 400 globally in one day.
Such good news lifts us all. And, after enduring a bleak few months and facing the start of a long winter, it gives us what we all need more than anything: hope for brighter times ahead.
Welsh words fail me
Wales has never been more fashionable.
This week Kylie Minogue said she loved watching her boyfriend talk Welsh to her 100-year-old grandma, who is from Maesteg.
Kylie Minogue's boyfriend charmed her when he spoke to her Grandma in Welsh – and Val is just as impressed
Robbie Savage's mum Val became 'ship without a sail' when her husband died
Robbie Savage's mum Val says chatting to new people made her feel normal again
I’m just as impressed. I grew up with English-speaking parents and at school dropped Welsh because it was bafflingly hard. I found French easier.
Colin spoke only Welsh until he was four years old. But when I first met his parents, he asked them to speak in English. I’m so glad he did – imagine if they’d been saying: “She’s ugly – and her skirt’s too short”.
I'll miss two famous gents
Val loved Des O'Connor's infectious giggle and ability to make fun of himself
What a shame we won’t hear Des O’Connor’s infectious giggle again. I loved how he could make fun of himself.
And I was sad to hear Ray Clemence had died. I adored him when he was at Liverpool, and met him one Christmas Eve when I was in a restaurant with our Robert and Sarah. He came over to have a chat and I was struck by how lovely he was. Sad to lose two greats.
It was JJ's time to go – but look at Bill go!
I love Amy Dowden on Strictly, and not just because she’s Welsh. And I think JJ Chalmers is an incredible bloke.
And I don’t want to be mean but JJ did not dance a jive. I think it was his time to go.
I was so shocked to see Maisie in the dance off I thought I’d woken from a nap and was still dreaming.
Bill Bailey has been a revelation. At the start, I thought, ‘uh oh, he’ll be one of the first to go’. But look at him go! What an inspiration.
Bill Bailey's dancing on Strictly didn't impress Val at first – but now she's wowed
(Image: BBC/Guy Levy)
Saving treats for Christmas is driving me nuts
This week I had a craving for a packet of KP nuts. Not those silly small packets you get in pubs. They’re so hard to open, half the nuts fly out and fall on the floor.
And by the time I get my fingers in, I can only fish one or two nuts out. I prefer to eat them in private so I can bring the bag to my mouth and pour the lot in.
So I asked my granddaughter Caitlin to buy me two big packets of salted peanuts on Saturday – one I’d keep for Christmas and the other would last all week.
Jonathan raised his eyebrows when he saw I’d underlined “big” bags on the shopping list – he knows me too well.
I poured some in a little ramekin bowl and ate them. Then poured another bowl. And another. I ate so many the salt chapped my lips. And both bags were empty by Thursday.
If you'd like to contact Val, please email [email protected]