I’m a Celebrity is like The Simpsons: Good If You’re Thick; Even Better If You’re Not

The interplay between celebrities in extremis offers such endless dramatic variety and tension you could almost be watching Shakespeare.

The best bit in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me out of Here! (ITV) will be when the prisoners finally revolt and turn on their evil captors, Ant and Dec. The sparky Geordie comedy duo will be imprisoned in a semi-submerged, rat-infested cage like the one in The Deer Hunter, fed on a diet of liquidised kangaroo bottom and wombat testicle, and released only to participate in a series of amusing challenges, such as a recreation of the “Lemmiwinks” episode from South Park, involving two giant funnels, a bunch of inserted eucalyptus leaves and a pair of ravening koalas.

Though it hasn’t happened yet I’m going to keep watching every night, just in case. I wish it weren’t so. It’s such a terrible waste of life. But I’m afraid that, for whatever reason, I’ve become an I’m A Celebrity addict. Now I’m going to try to justify it by ludicrously and implausibly arguing that it’s the most brilliant thing currently on TV.

I think it probably is, though. This is the 15th series — the first was in 2002, when it was won by Tony Blackburn — and it really ought to have run out of steam by now. But though the set and challenges are indeed looking a touch overfamiliar, the interplay between celebrities in extremis offers such endless dramatic variety and tension you could almost be watching Shakespeare. Well, Webster, at any rate.

I’m particularly intrigued at the moment by the burgeoning alliance between former world boxing champion Chris Eubank and former white Jamaican boy (till her parents discovered they’d got her genitalia confused and she was in fact a girl) Lady Colin Campbell.

It didn’t get off to a good start. Mincing, fastidious, softly-spoken Eubank proposed that celebrities who failed in any of their challenges should be punished by their fellow group members as a disincentive to further weakness. Lady C (as she’s known) had just failed a challenge at this point, so naturally she took umbrage.

And rightly so. This was one of those moments where Eubank — who has spent a lifetime cultivating an image of groundedness and gentlemanly decency — let slip his inner control-freak weirdo. (I love this about I’m A Celebrity. You can maintain your mask for a few hours. But never with the cameras on you 24/7 over a period of weeks, with hunger pangs playing havoc with your mood.) As any sane person understands, the punishment for failure is already quite bad enough — short rations; the misery of having let down your comrades — without having some tinpot fascist in a fake monocle piling on additional forfeits.

Read the rest at the Spectator.

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