I’m A Celebrity contestants have been quitting camp quicker than Ant and Dec sprinting across that rope bridge. Grace Dent was first, followed by the midweek departure of Jamie Lynn Spears. Both had left on medical grounds: Dent later said her time on the show had given her “a short, sharp glimpse into the pain some folk worldwide endure”. Sounds like the rest of us sitting through Ant and Dec’s one-liners night after night.
With the shockwaves still rumbling on after Jamie-Lynn’s departure – Hollyoaks’s Nick Pickard slept it out and didn’t even know she was gone – the tone was muted in an episode that had all the charm of a snake wriggling up your undies. A camera-shy Nigel Farage somehow clocked in even less screen time than in previous instalments. He continued to recover from his unsuccessful trial of the previous day, from which he had cried off when becoming distressed underwater.
Twenty-four hours on, he did his best to appear chipper. But how he has changed since week one when he told Grace that he wanted to do as many challenges as possible as it meant more camera time. Now, he seemed to be shrugging his way through, hoping to reach the finish line. “I’ve had some good days,” he said, ruddy with indifference. “I had a bad day yesterday.”
Farage faces another test on Friday. But on Thursday, that honour fell to Josie Gibson, Marvin Humes, Fred Sirieix, Frankie Dettori and Danielle Harold.
It was a typically sadistic orgy of snakes, rats and bugs, the celeb v critter pairings chosen by public vote. It was horrific and toe-curling at the same time. Even Ant and Dec appeared embarrassed when Gibson broke down and removed her head from a cage filled with spiders. Tears rolled down her eyes, she shivered. Ant and Dec cringed.
The team returned to camp with a mere four stars out of 10. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was an improvement over the morning when Fred’s strict rules around washing up had threatened to boil over. It was more upbeat that night: the gang had won some chocolate biscuits in the Dingo Dollar Challenge, and it was Tony’s birthday.
His treat was a slap-up meal. Actually, make that just a slap – Sam Thompson planted a whopper of a smack when he saw a mosquito on boxer Bellew’s head.
The birthday boy was too stunned to respond – which is how some viewers may have felt after yet another I’m A Celebrity episode where the creepy crawlies had better lines than the stars.
With just over a week to go, it’s far from clear who will win – or even who will be left. Yet, with ratings slumping to seven million from last year’s high of 12, the true loser as the bugs settle will probably be ITV.