Forget the jungle, a British camping holiday would be a real celebrity challenge | Rebecca Nicholson

Ice-cream eating contests and not being stared at in the local pub could replace the horrors of sultry Queensland

Now that the prospect of shipping a load of semi-famous people off to the other side of the world for a holiday/sponsored starvation has lost some of its tact factor, Ant and Dec are rumoured to be hosting the 768th series of I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! from an old castle in Wales.

With many people opting for a staycation this summer, it will surely be easier to empathise with the celebrities being put through the wringer in Britain rather than in the hot, sunny Australian jungle strewn with exotic animals and potentially deadly insects and reptiles. It also gives the producers scope to reimagine the show’s hardships through a more local lens. Who needs a tropical challenge when you have the entire British holiday experience to mine for ideas?

For example, the contestants might be tasked with attempting to eat an ice-cream. It doesn’t even have to be made out of bugs or anything revolting; just trying to polish off a cone before several rabid gulls have had their wicked way with it is enough to be getting on with. The more cheerful you remain, the more stars you get. Serotonin levels will be checked throughout, so a pinched: “This is lovely, far nicer than Queensland, it’s so hot there, what’s a bit of rain?” will not cut the mustard.

There could be a mosquito challenge, where you and your loved one are locked in hot, humid Airbnb room for at least five hours, four of which must be spent arguing about whether it’s a mosquito or a fly, with the final hour given over to attempting to swat it with a rolled-up copy of Woman’s Weekly from 1994.

When the campsites are allocated, one is filled with small children, the other with hen and stag parties. The more stars you get, the more children/hens/stags you are allowed to remove. I’d also watch Are You From Round Here?, a challenge in which contestants must walk into a new pub while the regulars all stare, then put on a nervous cheerful voice while secretly worrying about whether it’s pretentious or not to order the local ale. The fewer raised eyebrows, the more everyone gets to eat that night.

Also with any British camping holiday, the entire show will pack up three days before it’s actually due to finish, in the pissing rain, because at that point of the “experience”, sitting at home in front of Tipping Point reruns is starting to look like true escape. If I’m a Celebrity 2020 isn’t the “and all I got was this lousy mug” of reality shows, I’ll eat my witchetty grub.

By George, it’s Mary Ann Evans in her own write

Mary Ann Evans
A novel twist: George Eliot, pen name of Mary Ann Evans. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

It has been a busy few weeks for George Eliot, despite her shuffling off this mortal coil almost 140 years ago. First, a statue of her was robustly defended by anti-protest protesters in Nuneaton, during that brief period of social unrest where everyone had an issue with the ending of The Mill on the Floss. Now, Middlemarch has been republished under her real name, Mary Ann Evans.

The stunt is a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Baileys, which sponsors the award, has reissued 25 works by women that were first published under male pseudonyms, gathered together under the banner of “Reclaim Her Name”. Eliot, or Evans, is the most high-profile author; there are also George Sand’s Indiana, now by Amantine Aurore Dupin, and George Egerton’s Keynotes, now by Mary Bright, and, in a rare instance of a woman not choosing the name George as her nom de plume, Marie of the Cabin Club by Arnold Petri, now by Ann Petry. All have newly commissioned cover art, all by female designers, will be donated to libraries and can be downloaded as ebooks for free.

It’s an ad, of sorts, a marketing campaign, but even so, I found it oddly moving. It reminded me of the epic documentary Women Make Film, a long, in-depth history of female directors previously forgotten by history, rediscovered and put into their rightful context. I did not expect a name to matter, but to see these “new” ones reasserting ownership over their own work was surprisingly celebratory and profound.

‘Fun aunt’ lives on thanks to Biden

Maya Rudolph
Maya Rudolph: ‘effortless, hair-flicking, cocktail-sipping [Kamala] Harris impersonation’. Photograph: Chelsea Lauren/WWD/REX/Shutterstock

The classic US sketch show Saturday Night Live is now disseminated across the globe via YouTube clips.

Its political sketches see the long-running series at its best and worst, swinging from the golden years of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton to Alec Baldwin’s attempts to satirise Trump, an increasingly futile and humourless endeavour. Now that Kamala Harris has been announced as Joe Biden’s pick for VP, it should mean that Maya Rudolph will return to the show with one of its political highlights – her effortless, hair-flicking, cocktail-sipping Harris impersonation.

Rudolph heard the news of Biden’s choice while recording a Zoom panel with Entertainment Weekly, on which she was discussing her three Emmy nominations, one of which was for playing Harris. She deemed the appointment “spicy” and said that, while she hadn’t planned on travelling during a pandemic, she was not ruling out returning to SNL, if and when it resumes filming. I’m not saying the best thing to come out of US politics in recent years is Rudolph as “America’s fun aunt”, but I’ll take the “funt” where I can get it.

• Rebecca Nicholson is an Observer columnist


Rebecca Nicholson

The GuardianTramp

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