Matt Hancock is appearing in the new series of Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins (Channel 4), to which the only response is: enough, already. There was morbid entertainment value in observing his stint on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! last year, where he did his best Barbara Cartland impression to explain away the fact he’d cheated on his wife and taken the British public for schmucks (“I fell in love…”).
He made it through the series. Ok, Matt. Tatty-bye. But here he is again, this time being kicked around the Vietnamese jungle by some burly ex-Special Forces guys who make him choke on tear gas and commando crawl through the mud while yelling that he’s a “f---ing clown”.
There may have been times during the pandemic when you dreamed of this precise fate befalling him. Now, though, wouldn’t it just be better if he went away? The man is desperate for attention (he can also be found on TikTok lip-syncing to the Barbie soundtrack). “The last few years I’ve been mentally tested, I’ve been emotionally tested,” he solemnly informed us. “But never physically tested. I hope I rise to the challenge.”
Even the series has moved on: after going heavy on Hancock in episode one, episode two focused mainly on someone called Amber from The Only Way is Essex, who yabbers on about fake nails. The SAS blokes had to look her up on Google, like the rest of us.
Also here is Gareth Thomas, the former Welsh rugby player. Unlike Hancock, he really has had it tough: after coming out as gay during his playing days, a tabloid reporter turned up at his parents’ home and broke the news that he had HIV. He spoke about this in the “interrogation room”, where contestants are taken with bags over their heads. What a horrible thing to happen.
Even today, Thomas claimed, people move away from him in restaurants and refuse to shake his hand, fearful of “catching” HIV. It was a moving conversation, but also demonstrated that this show has very little to do with actual SAS training and merely adheres to the usual TV formula: celebrities and their emotional back stories, “journeys”, all the rest of it. If only Hancock would journey into obscurity.