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.


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
I’m a Celebrity ... South Africa review – Ant and Dec serve up a skeleton
Nine contestants who have done it all before squeal at snakes, swing on big balls and drop constant innuendos – but without public interference, the hit show has no meat on its bones

Rebecca Nicholson

24, Apr, 2023 @9:30 PM

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
Alone: the finale review – a slog from beginning to end (for viewers, at least)
Challenging solo travellers to survive in the wilderness may sound like the most extreme show ever – but all it’s been is endless clips of bored, lonely people trying to fish

Jack Seale

10, Sep, 2023 @9:00 PM

Article image
Celebrity Race Across the World review – Harry from McFly’s mum absolutely makes this adorable show
It’s the first celeb edition of this charming travel competition. The family dynamics are as gripping as ever, from Mel Blatt and her ex-army mum to Harry Judd and his lovable mother

Lucy Mangan

21, Sep, 2023 @11:50 AM

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
Rise and Fall review – it’s The Traitors meets The Apprentice!
This reality series from the makers of the Claudia Winkleman hit shares a lot of DNA with the BBC show – and Big Brother, and a certain Alan Sugar vehicle …

Jack Seale

19, Mar, 2023 @10:15 PM