As the smell of mince pies wafts throughout the house and tinsel starts to emerge from dusty cardboard boxes, everyone’s thoughts turn to that jolly old-time of year, Christmas. Everyone that is, except ITV producers. For as Santa urges his elves to quit Middle Earth and return to the wilderness of the North Pole, so too do the powers-that-be urge TV watchers to lose their dignity and return, once more… to ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.’
Every year since 2002, ‘I’m A Celeb’ has been infiltrating into UK households up and down the breadth of the country and this year sees the fourteenth series being aired. Yep that’s right. Fourteen series. Fourteen series of utter, utter rubbish (disclaimer: I actually like Ant and Dec, they are exempt from what you are about to read). The expression, ‘shit hits the fan’ is wrong. When ‘I’m A Celeb’ is on, my shit misses the fan and lands directly on the TV screen. Straight onto the loathsome face of yet another class X ‘celeb’ who is attempting to revive their plummeting career path. My primary concern with the programme is simple. Who are these people? Now I am fully aware that my cultural appreciation of certain arts is lacking. For example I wouldn’t be able to identify anyone from ‘Geordie Shore’ in a firing squad (actually this may be a good place to meet them) nor can I tell you who the presenter of MTV was in 2003, but realistically I know a celebrity when I see them. Which immediately begs the question? Who are the celebrities on series fourteen? Well let’s take a look.
There’s the obligatory model/playboy bunny Kendra Wilson, who has the voice of a fourteen year old (hope you identified that subtle joke), the rapper who belongs in the crapper, TinchyStryder, ex motor racer Karl Foggerty and a few ladies called Nadia Forde, Vicki Michelle and Melanie Sykes. Throw in old hat reporter Michael Buerke, Red Dwarf actor Craig Charles, TOWIE ‘star’ Gemma Collins and injury hit footballer Jimmy Bullard and as you can see, in celebrity spiciness this barely register a korma (although ironically I don’t mind a korma as regulars to Spoons in Chelmsford will know).
Fact: these are not celebrities. Another fact: these are people trying to revive a career or get noticed. Anyone remember Craig Charles winning a BAFTA or Bullard winning an England cap? If I were a lawyer I’m sure I could sue the makers of the programme for false representation in the show’s title. These are, at best C list celebrities. Now I’m not naïve, I know Tom Cruise, Becks and Robbie would never enter the jungle. But there’s my point, they would never need too because as proper celebrities they have more talent in their little figure then the whole bunch put together!
After establishing that these are not famous people we must now turn to the contents of the show itself, and here, once more, my blood begins to reach boiling levels. The premise of the show as everyone knows is for these individuals to, over a three week period; endure tough challenges and living conditions, with the winner being crowned King or Queen of the jungle (jungle being a highly secure filming set). For the public this is a chance to watch some intellectually stimulating TV, with voting taking place on who should undertake challenges and who should leave the process. These challenges or to give them their proper title, ‘Bushtucker Trials’ include, the Bush Bunker, Tunnel of Terror, Chamber of Horrors and Terror Tavern (even in the first three shows the writers have used up their extensive adjectives). Thus far (from my exasperated viewing) we have seen ‘lad’ Jimmy swearing in eel and snake infested water, ‘rhyming’ Tinchy getting minchy with a lizardchy and ‘father’ Craig calming ‘daughter’ Nadia in finding stars in the dark bunker.
How is this watchable television? This, my friends, is what those in the Tower of London would call torture. Being placed in confined spaces, hearing loud noises and coming face to face with gruesome creatures is the stuff of nightmares. In light of this I find myself worried and distressed at our obsession with seeing people placed in these positions. Viewing figures for series 13 were 10.66 million. It seems we, as a public have an innate love of gruesome, cruel things; a case of not wanting to do it ourselves, but enjoying the torment of others. Bizarrely we have created our own ‘survival of the fittest’ without nature interfering. We see this in X Factor, Big Brother and Britain’s Got Talent too, only in these programmes the ordeal is not a repulsive battle with cockroaches and equally horrific creepy crawly insects (Wait, I’ve forgotten about Simon Cowell… ).
So we have non celeb’s taking part in disgusting challenges. And you know what? They deserve it. Subconsciously this program has become a punishment for individuals who think they are celebrities. To prove this we have the recent case of Gemma Collins who has (spoiler alert) left the program after being unable to cope. Gemma it appears was simply not cut out for a lifestyle which saw her being one with nature, which is surprising considering she hails from Essex. But the streets of Basildon are still a different kettle of fish to the terrors of the jungle. For one thing you can probably buy a kettle worth of battered fish down Basildon high street. Instead poor Gemma moaned and groaned, at one point claiming ‘I’ve got malaria.’ Whilst this is obviously a rather gigantic exaggeration on her behalf it contrasts greatly with other celebrities who have released a single raising millions of pounds for charity; the original of course raising millions to help cope with, oh what is it called again Gemma? Malaria. The night before she slunk out of camp she claimed ‘I just don’t want to put myself through extreme measures,’ well what did you think this program was Gemma? A visit to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory? If I can maybe accept these ‘celebs’ trying to gain fame by entering this competition, what I cannot accept is this whining, when they know exactly what to expect!
You’ll have gathered by now that I have an issue with ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.’ Putting non-existent celebrities in a jungle and making them do horrible things is appalling TV. Yet that is its brilliance. When I’m need of a laugh by watching others suffer, you know what I’ll turn to? I’m A Celeb.
For in the words of TinchyStryder ‘When it was just a fling before now, you’re the one.’