All things considered, Prince Andrew would probably have done his image rather more good by volunteering to be a late, shock entrant on I’m a Celeb than by going on Newsnight with Emily Maitlis. His humiliation would have been far less painful. Plus, out in the humid Aussie tropics, we’d have at least been able to see whether his bizarre claim that he has lost the capacity to sweat is true. I was even hoping John Bercow might, despite the denials , turn up to yell “Order!” at a fresh crop of nonentities, and to tell Ian Wright to cease chuntering from a sedentary position. Anyway, there’s always next year.
Well I say that, but I do wonder quite how much longer the show itself has got, in the jungle of the digital age. It certainly seems to be losing its grip on the national consciousness. Like Big Brother, it should now be headed for that great TV graveyard in the sky, simply because the format doesn’t allow for much development, and it is as crusty and stale as a wichetty grub that’s been left out in the sun. They’ve banned live insects from being eaten these days, as it happens, but that’s about as radical a reform as they can manage.
Because of the bush fires, they’re cooking in gas stoves now, but otherwise it’s all very familiar – the same repetitive stunts, the same bogus tension, the same predictable results. It seems to drag on forever. A bit like the general election really, but even less fun.
Ant and Dec are back, though the uncomfortable truth is that the inseparable pair were separated last year and Holly Willoughby made a perfectly competent for Ant as he battled his demons. (Speaking for myself, I always find it’s a lot easier to just let the demons win and get on with it, but then I’m not a celeb). So no, I wasn’t that emotional to see the world’s only double act comprising two straight men re-unite. Quite the opposite, as they are now more annoying than ever.
Out of this year’s initial cast, Caitlyn Jenner is the obvious winner, being the least childish. And also the nearest thing to showbiz royalty – close connections to the Kardashians, plus the prestige of being an Olympian. Queen of the Jungle? Fame breeds fame, as we know.
Of the rest, brekkies telly presenter Kate Garraway and Radio 1 DJ Adele Roberts are warmly harmless, which might just work; Ian Wright had the makings of some leadership potential, and Jossa something (of EastEnders fame) was instantly forgettable. I hope Andrew Maxwell is as funny as he obviously thinks he is, and I fear rugger player James Haskell is not going to be the “alpha male” he clearly believes himself to be, meaning he will soil himself on his first encounter with the traditional marsupial sweetmeats. The rest are just so vacuous they risk creating the first Earth-based black hole.
For me, the high point arrives when someone called Roman Kemp declares that he’s up for eating as many “bums, willies and balls” as he can get his mouth round, so if all else fails he can at least fall back, so to speak, on a few roles in the world of specialist video production.
I’m a Celeb has been pointlessly refurbishing tired personalities ever since Tony Blackburn won the first contest in 2002, and it has maintained that standard of futility ever since. Tedious viewing to the point of torture, I don’t think I can face another “star” I’ve never heard of screaming at another spider or fumbling something out or a box full of cockroaches, or being disappointed by the inadequate toilet facilities.
Never mind the celebs, who get six figures for their trouble, far too many insects, amphibians and reptiles have had unnecessary suffering visited upon them – but surely not as much as us lot, the poor bloody viewers. As the politicians like to say, we deserve better.