I'm A Celebrity: MAFS' Dom grills Dicko over Australian Idol controversy

The former TV judge shared his thoughts on the incident 20 years later.

Less than one week into this year’s season of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson has opened up about the now-infamous gold dress controversy on Australian Idol.

Dicko, who was known as the ‘mean judge’ on the singing competition, famously fat-shamed season one contestant Paulini on live TV in 2003.

I'm A Celebrity's Dicko / Paulini wearing the gold dress on Australian Idol.
Dicko spoke about the now-infamous gold dress controversy on Australian Idol during Wednesday night’s episode of I’m A Celebrity: Photos: Channel 10

The incident was brought up in the jungle during Wednesday night’s episode when Married At First Sight’s Domenica Calarco told him he would’ve been “cancelled” if the incident happened today.

Dicko agreed, saying he would be “tarred and feathered” if he made the same comments in 2023, and recalled the shocking TV moment for the few campmates who were unaware of the scandal.

“There was this girl on Australian Idol [season] one 20 years ago, and people still talk to me about it like this, called Paulini” he detailed. “Beautiful girl, amazing voice.

“She came on towards the end of Australian Idol when it was massive, 2.5 million people per show which is big for Australia. And she wore a two-piece dress and it looked, it just didn't look good.”


Dicko went on to share that in the moment he knew he could either stay quiet “because people have started to like me now”, or speak his mind and “do what I said I would do” as the ‘outspoken’ judge.

“Unfortunately, I said you need to choose more appropriate clothes or shed some pounds,” he recalled, before seemingly downplaying the incident to his co-stars.

“I said eleven very banal words which just sent the whole country into a tailspin.”

I'm A Celebrity's Dicko and Dom Calarco.
MAFS’ Dom Calarco told Dicko he would’ve been ‘cancelled’ if he made the same comments today. Photos: Channel 10

'I'm a different person today'

Speaking in his confessional, Dicko described himself as “a straight shooter” with his “arrows confiscated” and said it’s harder for him to share his honest opinions in today’s world.

“You have to find a way to be straight these days,” he remarked. “I promise you there are thoughts going on in this head on this show that I can't verbalise.


“Would I say it today? No, I wouldn’t. But I’m a different person today and the world is different.”

Paulini also recently spoke about the incident with Stellar magazine in February, admitting it took her a while to recover from Dicko's comments.

“It wasn't like I started with a lot of confidence anyway,” she said. “But [that experience] definitely took me backwards.”

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