I’m a Celebrity final review – at least Matt the rat didn’t win

Matt Hancock’s interminable 21 days in the jungle is over – and he was intolerable to the last. Who was voting for this self-serving rodent?

‘Oh my God!” shouted footballer Jill Scott halfway through her last bushtucker trial. “I’ve got a rat on my face!” On the plus side, the rat wasn’t the one who quit the sinking ship of the Conservative party before jumping on board a 20-year-old TV franchise that, if not sinking, then like Matt Hancock’s political career has a negligible future.

In the end, the slimiest thing in the jungle did not win. The disgraced former health secretary and MP who opted to be covered in toads, spiders and eels, rather than do the well-remunerated job he was elected to do, was not crowned king of the jungle but only came third in the final of I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!

Hancock lasted 21 days in the jungle camp, survived eight eliminations, 1,700 complaints to the broadcast regulator, Ofcom, a statement from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group accusing him of “cashing in on his terrible legacy”, metabolised a cow’s anus and, most incredibly of all, was beaten by a Hollyoaks star. After eating a witchetty grub in this final instalment, second-placed Owen Warner told Ant and Dec proudly: “It’s going down my windpipe.” It wasn’t, of course, nor was the bull’s penis, the fermented duck egg, nor the camel’s testicle and eye he ate. Had they done so, Hollyoaks might have had to start casting for a new hunk.

The majority of more than 12 million public votes went to Scott, the actual lioness who was part of England’s Euro-winning football team this summer. She was indeed, as Warner described her, a “sweet soul” and one who from the first episode showed a steeliness of spirit. She, along with TV presenter Charlene White, walked a plank on top of a skyscraper before dangling above the human splatter zone for one long minute, while another contestant, comedian Babatunde Aleshe, understandably bottled it.

Scott’s achievement is more striking since, as Tanita Tikaram tweeted yesterday: “We are so lucky in the UK to have a whole industry of people working to make sure the least deserving in our society succeed.” What could the former pop star mean? She meant that, as the Observer reported, members of Hancock’s PR team were lobbying for votes on the I’m a Celebrity app – encouraging people to vote for him repeatedly and giving them step-by-step instructions how to do it, often using TikTok videos to court a younger demographic.

None of this, apparently, is against the show’s rules – but it’s clear that neither of the other finalists had PR machines behind them, so this was hardly a level playing field. Another intolerable truth about this year’s I’m a Celebrity is how contestants of colour were the first to be voted out. As in a Hollywood blockbuster (I’m thinking Ice Cube asphyxiated by the eponymous Anaconda) their fate was not to make it to the finale. A comparison with the recent finale of The Great British Bake off is salutary: the three finalists in that show were immigrants, one from Pakistan, another from Angola and the winner from Malaysia – all selected not by public vote but by TV judges. On I’m a Celebrity, all three finalists were white Britons. I’m not saying the voting public is racist, but it clearly doesn’t value diversity much.

Nor am I saying that those who voted to keep Hancock in the jungle were morons with more disposable income than sense who witlessly endorsed a terrible politician trying to sanitise his toxic brand. Well, not entirely. Some, no doubt, voted for him to stay in order that he be punished through a series of grisly bushtucker trials, which, though I’m no sadist, I think incommensurate with his awfulness.

After he was voted out, Hancock crossed the rope bridge to a well-deserved glass of champagne and a post-match interview with Ant and Dec. “We are normal people!” he said of himself and his fellow celebrities after watching his highlights video. Even Ant found that hard to take, given that the video consisted mainly of necking the viscera of local fauna and performing bad karaoke. (Hancock’s unsurprisingly self-serving choice of karaoke number? I Want to Break Free, by Queen.)

You can’t have it both ways, Mr Hancock. Either you’re normal or a celebrity. Or maybe the truth is you’re neither normal nor a celebrity, just another weak man who ran away from his responsibilities and expected to be forgiven for doing so.

Contributor

Stuart Jeffries

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
I’m a Celebrity review – two hours of sheer Matt Hancock-free hell
We are all waiting to see Hancock eat a kangaroo penis – but the failed health secretary hasn’t even turned up yet, leaving us with a bunch of people we’ve barely heard of

Stuart Jeffries

07, Nov, 2022 @12:11 AM

Article image
Matt Hancock was meant to fail on I’m a Celebrity. Here’s what went so horribly wrong
Watching Hancock eat animal penises like a serial killer was eye-opening. But who could have guessed he would be a really good reality TV contestant?

Stuart Heritage

28, Nov, 2022 @10:41 AM

Article image
‘The man is guaranteed to be punished’ – Matt Hancock on I’m a Celebrity will be legendary TV
The sadsack minister who screwed up Britain’s pandemic response has decided to serve his penance on television. This won’t just be unmissable viewing – it’ll restore our faith in humanity

Stuart Heritage

01, Nov, 2022 @11:36 AM

Article image
From the slurry to the ditty: Matt Hancock’s best and most hideous I’m a Celebrity bits so far
We thought we could picture the former health secretary in the jungle. But surely no one predicted he’d break into song within seconds

Sammy Gecsoyler

10, Nov, 2022 @12:57 PM

Article image
Matt Hancock went into I’m a Celebrity hated and came out jungle-washed. No wonder politicians love TV | Zoe Williams
From Boris Johnson on Have I Got News For You to Ann Widdecombe on Strictly, television lets the most divisive figures reinvent themselves. Why do we let them get away with it? asks Zoe Williams

Zoe Williams

28, Nov, 2022 @1:55 PM

Article image
Could Matt Hancock actually win I’m a Celebrity?
As much as I’d like to see him choke on a kangaroo testicle before Christmas, the prospect of a Hancock win has shaken me to my core. Let’s examine the data

Stuart Heritage

05, Nov, 2022 @12:00 PM

Article image
The Traitors review – Claudia Winkleman’s new show is sick, twisted … and totally addictive
Paranoia, guilt and sociopathy plague the 22 strangers collaborating to win cash – because the Strictly host is secretly ordering some of them to ‘murder’ at night. You’ll be hooked

Lucy Mangan

29, Nov, 2022 @10:30 PM

Article image
Jungle deliverance? Matt Hancock seeks his celebrity salvation
Covid-era health secretary hopes to use I’m a Celebrity … appearance to ‘deliver messages to the masses’ – who can now message back

Alexandra Topping

08, Nov, 2022 @10:30 PM

Article image
What we’ve learned about Matt Hancock on I’m a Celebrity
MP wants to show us his human side but his appearance so far has sucked the joy out of the show

John Crace

11, Nov, 2022 @11:35 AM

Article image
Share your views on Matt Hancock’s I’m a Celebrity… appearance
We would like to hear your thoughts on Hancock’s appearance on the show

Guardian community team

11, Nov, 2022 @11:19 AM