JUNGLE Queen Charlie Brooks last night relived the heart-wrenching moment her daughter Kiki was exploited by ITV and said: “I signed up for the show — she didn’t.”
The EastEnders actress said telly bosses went “too far” with the stunt when seven-year-old Kiki was reduced to tears after missing out on the chance of seeing her mum.
Charlie, 31, who beat Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts to the I’m A Celebrity crown, said the stars suffered enough mental torment without dragging in Kiki.
She begged show staff to reassure her Kiki was OK after she couldn’t stop imagining her little girl’s disappointed face.
Charlie said: “I signed up for this show, but Kiki didn’t. I didn’t want her to be so upset. I had no idea this was happening. It was my lowest point.
“My mum gave the green light for her to be there because it was an opportunity for Kiki to see me — and I think she thought she would.”
The incident happened when Charlie and darts ace Eric Bristow carried out a bushtucker trial in which they could select from several doors.
Kiki was secretly behind one of them hoping to see her mum but Eric — whose son James, 19, was with Kiki — picked the wrong one.
Kiki sobbed when she realised a reunion was out of the question.
Charlie said: “I felt like I’d been kicked when I realised she had been behind that door.
“I felt so sad for both of us and I couldn’t stop thinking about it afterwards.
“I kept picturing Kiki’s face. She would have been excited about seeing me and nervous about being on the show — and then disappointed when we failed the task.
“Afterwards I went straight up and spoke to the show bosses. They said she ‘had a moment’, but assured me she was OK after they gave her a bowl of ice cream.
“Luckily there were only a few days left so I just had to focus on taking one day at a time until I left the jungle and could see her.”
The emotional scenes after the stunt sparked a backlash against the ITV show last week as viewers branded it “exploitative”.
Asked if she felt the task was cruel, Charlie said: “A lot of people have said they think it was a step too far and maybe it was.”
Charlie told how thoughts of her daughter kept her going through her jungle ordeal.
She said: “Sometimes the trees around the camp felt like a prison. The mental stress they put us through was intense, and at times I thought I couldn’t get through it.
“But I had a film of Kiki that I would watch in my head. I would picture seeing her when I got out of the jungle — I couldn’t wait to snuggle her and squeeze her.
“And then I would imagine all the things we would do together — like the slides we would go on in a theme park and her eighth birthday, which is coming up.
“I missed her like crazy and coping with that on a daily basis is really tough. It makes you feel constant butterflies in your stomach.
“But if I hadn’t have done it, she would have killed me. She was desperate for me to go into the jungle.
“She even told me before I went in ‘Mummy, I’m going to vote for you to do all the disgusting trials.’ And she did — on her Nan’s phone.”
After the controversial episode viewers saw Charlie receive a letter from Kiki and talk to her for four minutes on the phone.
She said: “Talking to Kiki after not seeing her for so long was amazing. Knowing she was proud of me gave me the extra fight to carry on going.”
On Saturday night viewers saw Charlie laugh as little Kiki ran on to the set and leapt into her arms.
And as she was crowned Queen of the Jungle 2012, a mini-tiara was also handed to Kiki, who smiled and giggled as she was declared Princess of the Jungle.
But winner Charlie revealed she nearly didn’t sign up for the show because she was worried about suffering anxiety attacks live on air.
She said: “I only signed up about a week before flying to Australia.
“I was worried about missing my family and getting too anxious. I am a worrier and I get anxiety attacks occasionally, like a lot of people. It can take over. So I wasn’t sure how I would react in that environment.
“But actually, I was fine. I just trusted myself. I know that I’m not a bad person, I know that I’m not a bitch, and I just stayed true to who I am. So knowing that people voted for me to win has been a real confidence boost. I want to use the experience to stop worrying so much.
“When I spoke to the show’s psychiatrist afterwards, she said I need to take what I’ve learnt and use it to let go of my worries and insecurities.”
Charlie also had to do her fair share of bushtucker trials. Grimacing, she remembered: “The Final Feast trial was definitely the worst.
“The live witchetty grub was probably the easiest of the lot. Worst was the pig brain and the turkey testicles. I’ve never felt so sick.
“The fish guts I had to wade through in the Walk of Shame were disgusting too. But I got an adrenaline rush from doing the trials.
“The show has definitely got tougher over the years — we all agreed about that in the camp. The bosses always have to up their game.”
The series triggered a wave of controversy when fragile 1980s entertainer Brian Conley, 51, quit the jungle after ten days suffering a huge meltdown.
Charlie said: “He is a great character. He’s full of life and kept us entertained with stories constantly. He kept the whole camp going. I wish him all the best.”
After she was crowned Jungle Queen, Charlie shared an emotional reunion with her boyfriend Ben Hollington, who flew out to surprise her.
Charlie, who split from Kiki’s dad Tony Truman in 2007, has been dating the architect, from Bournemouth, for months, and said they are enjoying getting to know each other better.
She also admitted she wouldn’t rule out having more children.
The EastEnder said: “It’s going really well for us and I’m really happy. Having more children isn’t top of my list of priorities at the moment, but never say never.”
Looking back on her jungle experience, Charlie said: “I’m A Celebrity was such a mental, bizarre, life-changing challenge — it was nuts.
“It was one of the toughest things I have ever done, but if I’d known how hard it would be, I would have still gone ahead with it.
“I have learnt that I am so much stronger than I thought I was, and I have come away with some fantastic friends.
“Being crowned the Queen of the Jungle was the cherry on top of the whole experience.
Helen made me so mad
CHARLIE said the only campmate who irritated her was former Corrie actress Helen Flanagan.
She said: “Helen is sweet and I admire her ability to be unashamedly herself all the time. But she is, by her own admission, nuts.
“She drove me mad when she didn’t get any stars and I told her that to her face.
“I said to her that she was a bit of a drama queen at times because it’s true. She wasn’t really trying, which I found so frustrating.
“It was a horrendous few days — because people do start to go a bit strange when they don’t eat.”