mehe’s a celebrity… Get me out of here! been a bit long in the tooth for years. The challenges are getting stale and the contestants are getting darker with each passing year. If it wasn’t for Ant and Dec, who still manage to go viral at least once or twice a series, you’d stop watching altogether. Maybe you already have it.
But today he brings the kind of news that not only restores I’m a Celebrity to the top league of reality TV, but also restores your faith in humanity itself. This is news that makes you stand a little taller, that makes your heart beat a little harder. That’s right: Matt Hancock has signed on to I’m a Celebrity.
Read it again. Isn’t that amazing? Matt Hancock, the man who wrecked Britain’s response to the pandemic and was later caught breaking his own social distancing rules while cheating on his wife, has decided to do his penance on ITV. Even better, an ITV show where viewers are essentially lashing out at famous people out of spite.
This was already shaping up to be a major year-long storm for I’m a Celebrity, with household names like Chris Moyles and Boy George signing on, but the Hancock news has made it legendary. The man is automatically guaranteed to attend every bushtucker trial that takes place. No matter what it is, maybe it’s covered in maggots, or forced to eat a kangaroo’s ass, or kicked into a rocky ravine, this is a chance for the British public to finally get revenge on a figure who came to personify any government mishap during COVID-19.
The other campmates must be absolutely pinching themselves. Hancock is late for camp, but he doesn’t want to be alone. The other person arriving with him will be Seann Walsh, a man mostly famous for cheating on his girlfriend with his Strictly Come Dancing partner. Walsh is hated by the public. Had he followed anyone else to camp (literally anyone: Piers Morgan, James Corden, the ghost of Mussolini), he would have found himself subject to more bushtucker trials than anyone in the show’s history. That’s how people dislike Walsh. But he goes off with Matt Hancock, which means he gets a nice free vacation where everyone ignores him for a few weeks. Walsh emerges from the jungle pristine and relaxed. The hardest thing he’ll face is watching Hancock, crying and covered in ostriches, picking handfuls of spiders out of his underwear for the 16th day in a row.
Scroll through Hancock’s latest footage and you’ll be able to freeze the exact moment he decided to take part in I’m a Celebrity. Rishi Sunak was delighted to hand over his colleagues in Downing Street, delighted that he had finally been chosen to lead the country. Hancock was also in the crowd, smiling and expectant as Sunak drew ever closer. But Sunak rebuffed Hancock, refusing to shake his hand or even meet his eyes. Hancock’s discouragement was on full display. His face fell. His shoulders sagged. Agony danced through his entire body. Watch that video again and pause it right after the snub. Look into Hancock’s eyes. It is the look of a man who has nothing to lose. Of course he wants to lower himself and appear on ITV. Of course he will let the public intimidate him. Sure, he’ll probably find his genital area full of ticks and leeches. And that? He can no longer feel.
It is true that Hancock may have been informed that he is simply following in the footsteps of his colleagues. Nadine Dorries appeared on I’m a Celebrity in 2012 and Penny Mordaunt appeared once on the celebrity dive show Splash. But actually no one really knew them back then. They were political minnows looking to elbow their way into the spotlight.
It’s not Hancock though. He goes into the jungle in a known quantity. Everyone in the country is fully aware of him, his sad and appetizing personality and all the things he has done. People died under his watch, and now they finally have a chance to recover. Forcing him to crawl through a tunnel full of rats, crying, moaning and begging for mercy, will he bring back his loved ones? No, but he’s the next best thing. This show will be impossible to miss.