Christmas arrived early for JLS singer Marvin Hume as he became the latest camper to leave I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! As Hume looked forward to a feast of real-world luxuries – hot food, regular showers, no more Sam Thompson following him around waving that stick – the rest of the contestants bunkered down for Saturday’s Cyclone Experience. And for a potential cyclone challenge of a different nature, with a genuine weather event potentially chugging its way towards I’m A Celeb… HQ in New South Wales.
Three weeks in, the celebs were showing signs of flagging. And so was ITV as it laboured to find something interesting to do with the clapped-out crew in a supremely passable, occasionally feel-good episode. There was some banter. Here Nigel Farage, so long in the background, briefly had a starring role. It came about as he and Josie Gibson nattered in the camp leader bus. Farage had loads of gossip about the European Parliament, where he served for many years.
The picture the arch-Brexiteer painted of life as a high-flying Euro-politician wasn’t as damning as might be expected. It verged on glowing. “For the MEPs, it’s an amazing lifestyle. You get to the airport, a chauffeur-driven Mercedes is waiting for you,” he told the increasingly incredulous Josie.
“You want to go out for dinner, the chauffeur takes you. You get 300 euros a day spending money, cash. The members’ dining room, wonderful crab and lobster buffets… Every day! The Ukip table was often the noisiest in there because we drank and had a laugh. People looking at us in horror. And if you’re an MEP the power that you have is incredible. You are treated like the elite. Women throwing themselves at you.”
It looked like the only throwing Josie wanted to do was up. Still, the chat was heartfelt, too – with Nigel recalling his final thoughts when he was involved in a near-fatal plane crash.
“Do you know what I thought about? Women… All that stuff. Children, obviously, and just thought, ‘Let’s hope this is over quickly.’”
Farage has been a confounding contestant. He’d plunged into the action early, volunteering for Bushtucker Trials and telling Grace Dent (long since gone) that the more you suffered, the greater your screen time. However, he later retreated and appeared content to make up the numbers (the biggest number being the £1.5 million ITV is supposedly paying him).
Now, with the final curtain/cyclone looming, he was springing into action. He volunteered to partake in the Christmas-themed Bushtucker – to be fair, camp leader Josie didn’t object too much to sitting it out. With that, Nigel and Marvin were off for a seasonal challenge that involved dousings with cranberry sauce and sucking fish eyeballs, just like in Christmases of yore.
With 90 minutes to fill, the producers padded the instalment further by parachuting in the contestants’ loved ones (they didn’t literally chuck them out of a plane, though think of the telly it would have made for). Marvin and his wife Rochelle hugged and sobbed, and everyone generally had a good blub. Apart from Nigel, stunned by the arrival of his daughter Izzy. His first assumption was that ITV had shipped in a cardboard cut out in her likeness.
Five have become four, and Saturday will see the surviving quartet participate in the Cyclone Experience – a huge waterslide with lots of potential for slipping, sliding and general humiliation. That’s assuming Cyclone Jasper doesn’t make landfall first – either way, with two episodes to go in this generally underwhelming season, everything is still to play for. Apart from Farage’s record-breaking cheque – that’s already in the bag, and you can bet nobody is going to mistake it for a cardboard cut-out.