tue 03/10/2023

I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!, ITV1 | reviews, news & interviews

I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!, ITV1

I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!, ITV1

Welcome return of the celebrity-baiting show

Ant and Dec are back with the 12th series in the jungle

The 12th series of the jungle fun is another gathering of micro-celebs, wannabes and has-beens, and a smattering of people you have never heard of - and indeed by the end of the series would still have difficulty identifying in a police line-up, so interchangeable and unremarkable are they.

The 10 “celebrities” are the usual suspects: people you vaguely remember from a soap - Helen Flanagan (Coronation Street) and Charlie Brooks (EastEnders); a popster (ex-Pussycat Dolls' Ashley Roberts); and a couple of actors of a certain age - former Doctor Who Colin Baker and Linda Robson of Birds of a Feather fame; and the now de rigueur male fluff from “reality” TV - Hugo Taylor from Made in Chelsea, following in the footsteps of last year's runner-up Mark Wright from The Only Way is Essex. Also in is comic Brian Conley, boxer David Haye and former darts player Eric Bristow.

But this year's stand-out contestant before the programme even started was Nadine Dorries (pictured right), at the time of writing Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, but not for much longer, one assumes. Normally MPs wait for the electorate to show them the door before grasping the greasy pole of TV fame, but Dorries has surely pre-empted the good people of the Home Counties by abandoning her parliamentary duties for the lure of the jungle (or perhaps the reputed £40,000 fee that goes with it, although rather late in the day she has said she will donate it to children's charities). And while I'm loth to give the woman any more oxygen of publicity by mentioning her at length, she has played straight into the public's hands by creating such a stooshie.

Dorries says she wants to get her politics across to the millions who who watch IACGMOOH!, rather than the few thousand who watch the BBC Parliament channel, and she has a point. But she must be a fool if she thinks ITV will allow her to parade overtly political messages - this is a heavily edited show - although I'm looking forward to when she and Robson (pictured below), an old-fashioned lefty, are sitting around the campfire together...

But that's a joy yet to come. In last night's opener the 10 contestants made all the usual errors by saying stuff that will bite them in the bum. Bristow ungrammatically boasted “I don't fear nothing” and Flanagan admitted she was “absolutely terrified of heights”, while Dorries said going into the jungle with snakes and rats “sounds like Westminster to me” but which sounded like a scripted moment to everyone else. Roberts, meanwhile, must have won over gazillions of fans with her nicely ironic remark that eating a kangaroo penis was “not my normal weekend”.

They were split into two groups named after their separate camps, Croc Creek and Snake Rock, and the two fivesomes had to race to the helicopters; the winners would have a nice last night at a luxury beachfront hotel in Queensland, while the losers would have an uncomfortable night camping on the open. Roberts took charge of her group, but they were hampered by Baker (hoping to lose weight on this trip) who held them up by his huffing and puffing.

There was the usual ridiculous hyperbole from the losers. After a sleepless night camping in the rain, Dorries described it as "possibly one of the worst nights of my life" - trust me, Nad, it will very quickly prove not to be - as brain of Britain Hugo said: “It's going to be uphill from now.” For you, matey, deffo.

Dorries took charge of the Snakes (I say nothing) who had to row across a creek and promptly found themselves well and truly in the drink, which I suspect the MP's constituents would be cheered by.

Ant and Dec are on sparkling form as ever - I can’t imagine anybody else doing this show as well as they

The Crocs, meanwhile, had to get across a rope bridge with gaps across a gorge. Most did it without fuss, except Flanagan, who behaved as if she was doing a high-wire trapeze act without a safety net. She had a hard hat and harness on, and no “celebrity” has ever been seriously injured in previous seasons, and she eventually made it safely across, but not without tears. Big mistake - has she not watched this show?

When the transmission went live at the end of the 90-minute opener, it was predictably Flanagan and Dorries who were to go head-to-head in the next bushtucker trial. The British public, I am proud to say, know losers/divas/tossers/drama queens/fakers/ridiculous self-publicists when they see them and happily keep voting them to do the gruesome tasks, which is surely the main attraction of this programme.

Hosts Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly are on sparkling form as ever - I can’t imagine anybody else doing this show as well as they, which they present with the right mix of friendly, joky, sarcastic and innuendo. They make the scripts seem fresh, although they clearly go off piste, an important element in a show as predictable as this. Roberts, Robson and Baker look to be the frontrunners at the moment – but, as we know from previous series, it's all to play for.

  • I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! continues daily on ITV1
The British public, I am proud to say, know losers/divas/tossers/drama queens/fakers/ridiculous self-publicists when they see them

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