Thursday 12 December 2019

Into the jungle: Nadia Forde's most surprising move yet...

Until she was unveiled as a contestant for I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here this week, Nadia Forde was unknown in UK showbiz circles. So how did the Clontarf model, singer and panto star land a spot on one of the most-watched reality shows on TV?

Nadia Forde’s management has put a lot of money behind her over the past 18 months.
Nadia Forde’s management has put a lot of money behind her over the past 18 months.
Nadia Forde promoting the EuroMillions jackpot.
Nadia Forde arrives at the Brisbane International Airport ahead of the show.
Nadia Forde will be sharing her new jungle habitat with witchetta grubs, mice and spiders.
Melanie Sykes
Carl Fogarty
Vicki Michelle
Craig Charles
Gemma Collins
Kendra Wilkinson
Tinchy Stryder
Jimmy Bullard
Michael Buerk
Nadia Forde
Kendra Wilkinson
I'm a Celebrity...Picture shows:( l-r) Craig Charles, Nadia Forde, Vicki Michelle, Gemma Collins , Carl Fogarty, Mel Sykes, Jimmy Bullard Tinchy Stryder, Kendra Wilkinson, and Michael Buerk
I'm a Celebrity...

Jennifer O'Brien

A doe-eyed and petite Nadia Forde first graced the pages of Irish newspapers back in 2007 - an innocent but undoubtedly sexy 18-year-old aspiring model.

Shorter than your average catwalk queen at just 5ft 7 inches, the half-Italian beauty soon began to wipe the floor with the competition - lapping up press calls on a weekly basis.

It wasn't long before diminutive Nadia was going head to head with well-established older girls, including Georgia Salpa and Sara Kavanagh, and booking up modelling gigs all over the country.

So what exactly was it about the quietly ambitious teenager that put her ahead of the legions of other Irish models battling it out for newspaper exposure?

Photographer Brian McEvoy, who shot some of Nadia's first photo-calls in Dublin, remembers things taking off spectacularly fast for the brunette.

"Nadia was working in FM104 when she started and was part-time doing press calls in bikinis and lingerie," Brian recalls.

"Very quickly, all her pictures were landing in the papers and she was in demand.

"It went from there really, and she was certainly one of the busiest models around in those early years."

But assertive Nadia was always seeking much more than a career that consisted of her standing in her knickers at the top of Grafton Street.

Recent years saw her hang up her modelling shoes in favour of pursuing a career in music. Her debut single 'BPM' didn't exactly ignite flames of excitement in the world of music, but Forde is determined to carve out a living from performing.

A firm favourite of Irish red-tops - as much for her colourful love life as her modelling - Nadia counts rugby international Luke Fitzgerald and DJ Mark Noble among her ex-boyfriends.

But it was her night out on the town in Dublin with golf star Rory McIlroy that first landed her some headlines across the water this year.

Now, with her entrance into I'm A Celeb cemented, the rest could soon be history.

Google Nadia's name this week and you will be met with countless 'Who Is Nadia Forde?' headlines from British media outlets.

The articles are accompanied with a series of scantily clad images, introducing the British market to the Irish 'sex-kitten' and aspiring singer.

But how did she manage to do it?

I'm a Celeb, which last year saw Westlife's Kian Egan crowned winner after two weeks in the Australian jungle, is a long-time ratings winner.

Competition for a spot on the series is fierce, with agents and managers putting their celebrity clients up for a potential appearance years in advance.

The 2014 line-up includes TV presenter Melanie Sykes, TOWIE's Gemma Collins and rapper Tinchy Stryder - and there's no denying that Nadia is the least known of the bunch.

As this year's most surprising entry, the UK media were scrambling to gather information on Forde this week but, in reality, the ambitious bid to get her on the ITV series began last year.

One London-based PR expert, who has kept a close eye on the campaign surrounding Nadia, admitted her appearance on the show is more than a stroke of luck.

"This did not just happen - Nadia's signing for the show has been in the making for a long time," he says.

"The push behind her has been huge - her management has put a lot of money into her over the past 18 months or so.

"She had a documentary on TV3 in Ireland about her time in LA, has spent a considerable amount of time doing gigs around England and recently had a spread in FHM. Everything has been aimed at building her profile to make her a realistic contender for I'm A Celeb, and it worked."

He continues: "There was a general consensus in UK media circles that Nadia had missed the boat when she refused to talk about her links to golf-ace Rory McIlroy earlier this year, but it doesn't seem to have done her any harm at all - they still pulled it off."

This week, self-confessed "home bird" Nadia finds herself holed up in a hotel room in Brisbane - she will have zero contact with the outside world - awaiting her journey into the jungle on Sunday.

And former series winner Kian Egan admits that at this stage in the process, Nadia and her fellow contestants will be feeling both nervous and anxious.

"Waiting to go in can be the worst thing - you are locked in a hotel room with no phone and you don't even know who is going in with you," Kian says. "It's a real psychological test and all the contestants will be feeling that now - there are all sorts of emotions."

Also sure to be on her mind is Nadia's mother Bernie, who was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. Nadia was reunited with Bernie in August after years of being estranged from both parents. She took time off from work in September and October to spend at her mum's bedside, but has entered the jungle with the support of her family.

Over the next fortnight, Nadia and her campmates will face gruelling trials and endurance tests before the public decides to vote them off the show. The winner of the series goes on to pocket a reported £100,000 sterling, as well as a raised profile for at least the next 12 months.

For Nadia Forde, every minute of airtime is a bonus. Photographer Brian McEvoy predicts that she will make it to the final five.

"I think people will take to her in the jungle, she will make friends quickly," he says. "Nadia will panic with the tasks so hopefully she won't get voted for too many of them.

The real adventure will begin when Nadia arrives back on this side of the world after the show. Her ability to sustain any sort of lasting power in the notoriously fickle UK showbiz industry will depend on how she utilises the exposure from the series. Her Grafton Street press call days may be a thing of the past, but Nadia knows which side her jungle bread is buttered.

'I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here' starts on Sunday at 9pm on 3e

Nadia's rivals: Also in the  running for the jungle crown

Michael Buerk

Best known as: News reader and war reporter

Age: 68

Relationship status: Married

Phobias: Cats

Dream camper: Kathy Lette

Most likely to: Become camp leader.

Jimmy Bullard

Best known as: Former Wigan footballer

Age: 36

Relationship status: Engaged

Phobias: Snakes, spiders

Dream camper: Mickey Rourke

Most likely to: Talk about money.

Craig Charles

Best known as: Lloyd in Coronation Street

Age: 50

Relationship status: Married

Phobias: None. Although doesn't fancy the eating trials

Dream camper: Stevie Wonder or George Clooney

Most likely to: Play the father figure.

Melanie Sykes

Best known as: TV presenter

Age: 44

Relationship status: Single

Phobias: Heights, claustrophobia

Dream camper: I don't mind who is in camp!

Most likely to: Miss her beauty products.

Tinchy Stryder

Best known as: Rapper

Age: 28

Relationship status: Dating

Phobias: None he's admitting to

Dream camper: Rihanna

Most likely to: Try it on with Nadia.

Carl Fogarty

Best known as: World superbike champion

Age: 49

Relationship status: Married

Phobias: Food, boredom and people

Dream camper: Richard Branson

Most likely to: Be the loner of the camp, admitting 'I'm not a people person'.

Vicky Michelle

Best known as: 'Allo 'Allo actress

Age: 63

Relationship status: Married

Phobias: Snakes and spiders

Dream camper: Christopher Biggins

Most likely to: Complain about the lack of food.

Gemma Collins

Best known for: TOWIE

Age: 33

Relationship status: Single

Phobias: Claustrophobia

Dream camper: Tamer Hassan, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne

Most likely to: Tell other contestants to 'shut up' and chicken out of tasks.

Kendra Wilkinson

Best known as: Playboy bunny

Age: 29

Relationship status: Married

Phobias: Free fall, bugs and snakes

Dream camper: A hot-looking guy!

Most likely to: Strip off.

Irish Independent

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