It was the battle of the bulges on the penultimate episode of I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! as Nigel Farage and his fellow campers strapped on their short-shorts and took on the Cyclone challenge.
This “cyclone” wasn’t the tropical weather event that had briefly threatened I’m Celeb HQ. It was an annual rite of passage involving water cannons, weaponised gym balls and celebs slip-sliding away while dressed as superheroes (Nige was the “disruptor”).
There was everything to play for during a fun, frisky and engaging instalment. And everything on show from male contestants Farage, Sam Thompson and Tony Bellew. All were belted into shiny shorts that will have haunted the dreams of sensitive viewers.
The protruding packages certainly stunned the only female contestant remaining, Josie Gibson. Perhaps that is why she seemed relieved at her subsequent elimination by public vote – her exit clearing the way for an all-male decider on Sunday night.
By any standards, the season has been a turn-up for the jungle books. When Nigel Farage was unveiled as a contestant, the prediction was he would be 2023’s answer to Matt Hancock – a figurative punchbag for the rest of the camp. But he’s stayed the course and cleared that daunting hurdle of being more charismatic than the former Health Secretary.
He, Sam, and Tony have also made for an unlikely power trio. In Saturday’s outing, they – and Gibson – did well to overcome the Celebrity Cyclone (it may have helped that it was a rare bug-free obstacle course).
Riding high from their success, they were in bantering form. Farage even shared the nugget that Henry VIII was his favourite king. “I approve of his lifestyle: women, hunting, lots of banquets.”
There haven’t been many banquets on I’m A Celeb this year, though the remaining contestants did well to gain four stars during the Cyclone and were rewarded with buffalo ribs.
With a mere four celebs left, there was no designated chef, so they all pitched in. That made a change from earlier in the week when Josie and First Dates’s Fred Sirieix were at loggerheads over meal preparation.
“It was the battle of the chefs,” Josie said in her “exit interview” with Ant and Dec. “I was trying to cook. He’s criticising everything you’re doing”. She and Fred had a “showdown” during which she put manners on him, she added. It must have been quite a ding-dong as ITV didn’t include it in the nightly highlights.
All of that is bad blood under the bridge, however. Final night is almost upon us. Against all expectations, the remaining trio are a Brexiteering politician, a reality star and a retired boxer.
It’s hard to say whether the highly novel line-up is enough to arrest plummeting viewership (ratings fell two million after launch day). But after forcing us to watch Nigel and the gang in their barely-there sparkle pants, I’m A Celebrity has already pushed the “eek!” envelope. Now, all it has to do is deliver a finale to remember.