Dame Edna Everage once said: “A celebrity is a nobody who got lucky.” So, are the people being pelted with scorpions on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! unlucky or lucky? On the one hand, they are being humiliated on television. On the other, they are on television. And that’s where the celebrity longs to be.
The latest season of this tripe is slithering to an end. You know the routine. A dozen B-listers are dropped into a jungle that looks suspiciously like a garden centre near Kidderminster. They compete in survivalist “bushtucker trials” involving rats, bugs and spiders in order to win food and luxuries. The viewers vote them off one by one. The whole thing is contrived. There’s always a dizzy blonde, a pretty boy, an ageing lothario, an angry Scot and a posh twit – and there’s a good chance that you’ve never heard of any of them. This time around I spotted Chris Eubank, a nice cuddly bear of a man who has slightly undermined boxing by giving it a good name. Boxers should be monsters who are doing it to raise bail for their mum, not monocled gentlemen with a lisp.
I’m a Celebrity tells us so much about now. In 1955, this would’ve featured 12 Oxbridge graduates – opera singers, playwrights, perhaps a tennis champ – who had been through a war and wouldn’t scream upon meeting an ostrich. The best we can muster nowadays are largely inarticulate men and women who squabble and fight, and can’t stand too close to the campfire lest it cause their implants to explode.
And what does the public want to do to its latter-day idols? Why, punish them, of course. Because the viewer is no fool. He or she knows that these people are one pop song away from working in Boots and they’re determined to see them suffer for the little good fortune they’ve had.
That’s why I can’t sit through this show. It invites us to be cruel. My idea of a bushtucker trial would be having to watch I’m a Celebrity on a loop.