From: Closer Magazine

Phobias made his life a misery

By Helen Roberts

Natalie Appleton’s ex-husband tells Closer how her phobias made his life a misery.

Before she even set foot in the Jungle, ex-All Saints singer Natalie Appleton described herself as a “sadistic, masochistic freak” for taking part in I’m A Celebrity! and admitted: “I have phobias and compulsive disorders:’ And boy, was she telling the truth!

CloserWithin minutes, we saw Natalie, 31, suffering a panic attack in a helicopter. Later, she was too frightened to touch a tree and woke up the camp by crying and shrieking when she saw a spider. On the second day, it took producers three hours to coax her into doing her high wire bushtucker trial because of her acute fear of heights. On completing the task, she had to be given oxygen.Natalie pulled out of her second challenge — being plunged into tanks of eels, cockroaches and ants — afraid she would vomit.These phobias contributed to the disintegration of her first marriage, according to Natalie’s ex-husband Carl Robinson.

Carl, 37, a former Dreamboy stripper, said: “We were together for three years and her phobias never really bothered me at first. But, as time went on, they started to get on my nerves. “Everything you’ve seen so far is exactly how Natalie was when we were together.“I bet she kept away from the toilet for as long as possible.She’s always had this obsession with a clean toilet. She used to scrub the one in our flat every day with disinfectant — but still put toilet paper on the seat when she had to use it.”

There were times when Natalie’s neurotic ways would embarrass Carl in public. “She had a temper. Whenever we went to a restaurant, she’d prod and sniff the food on her plate;’ he reveals. “She once accused a chef of sticking chips up his bum before serving them because they smelt!”

Carl believes her phobias partly stem from her parents splitting up when she was six.Her mum and dad, Mary and Ken, were living in Canada when they separated. Ken returned to England and Mary, a secretary, later moved the family back to be with him. But when Natalie was 15, Mary left Ken again, this time taking their daughters — Natalie, Nicole (her All Saints bandmate), Lee and Lori — to New York.
Carl, 37, told Closer: “Natalie took it very hard and was torn between her mum and dad for years. I think that has a lot to do with her having such weird ways:’ Carl met Natalie in 1991, during one of his performances with the strip group The Dreamboys. They fell in love instantly and moved in together. They married two years later. When their daughter Rachel was born in 1992, Ken and Mary got back together and, in 1993, Carl and Natalie moved to New York to live with her family. But Carl, who is now part of a new touring strip team, Adonis Cabaret, said this was the death nail for their relationship.

He says: “I wanted us to live alone but Natalie didn’t want to leave her family. “I ended up having to constantly reassure Natalie that I loved her and it was really tiring. Her neurotic ways go much deeper than her phobias and her obsession with cleaning:’ By 1994, Carl realised the marriage wouldn’t work.

“By the end, we hadn’t had sex for three or four months:’ he sighs. “I ended up cheating on Natalie and sleeping with groupies. We were miserable together so I decided we should separate and she agreed.”
Despite these criticisms, Carl believes Natalie will eventually win over the viewers. He says: “Her true nature will gradually come out as her confidence grows. “Underneath her weirdness, she’s a genuinely nice person and viewers will get to see that as she becomes more comfortable:’

Natalie’s mum Mary told Closer she hopes the jungle will help Natalie deal with her demons. Mary, who lives in north London, said: “It’s kill or cure. I hope she comes out of it a lot stronger because she’s always had to battle with a lot of fears:’ Natalie’s daughter Rachel, 12, husband, Prodigy star Liam Howlett, 33, and their son Ace, eight months, are currently staying with Mary and Ken while Natalie is in the jungle. “Rachel was apprehensive about her taking part and was teased at school when Natalie cried, but she was very proud after she completed her task:’ says Mary.