The line-up is shambolic, like the fuzzy end of a wedding guest list

TV Review: I'm A Celebrity was thrown into crisis when Ant headed to rehab

Pop star Vanessa White conquers her fears by walking on a plank, 32 storeys up, to win a meal ticket on the opening episode of "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!" 2017. Video: TV3

 

There is never going to be a moment in I’m A Celeb when Kanye West trips into the Versace hotel backpack in hand sharing a glass of fizz with Wagner from X Factor.

The “Celebrity” part of the title is a wonderfully loose term but even with the awareness that the calibre of famous faces are more Joan Collins the TD than Joan Collins the Dynasty diva, this year it could be re-titled “I’m Tenuously Related to a Celebrity Get Me A Job”. 

The line-up is disappointingly vague and shambolic, like the fuzzy end of a wedding guest list, someone’s Dad, someone’s brother,someone’s wife,someone who once stood beside a famous person once, a Saturday. There are half-eaten witchetty grubs from last year’s show more famous than this lot.

This may be due to the fact that the series itself was thrown into crisis when presenter Ant McPartlin headed to rehab due to a prescription drug addiction and filming was significantly delayed. 

This scandalous issue is swiftly addressed with Dec reading the script as if it was meant for Ant’s rumoured substitute This Morning’s Holly Willoughby, but it’s quickly replaced by their familiar nudgy-winky 1980s variety show humour.

They immediately joke about Boris Johnson watching the show as his father Stanley is taking part in the series. Stanley is the kind of older contestant that they wheel out on I’m A Celebrity every year in the mould of Lady Colin Campbell, an out of touch, eccentric aristo who, they hope, will make several faux pas with the “yoof” and possibly cause offence with some archaic views.

Currently though Stanley is proving quite adorable in a cliche bumbling British, “tally-ho” way. Never having seen the show before, he fails to recognise Ant or Dec, then loudly asks for help in identifying them and later tells defensive ex-Hollyoaks actor Jamie Lomas that he recognises him from the show as it’s something he has to endure when he’s waiting for Channel 4 news to start. He enquires about what a reality show actually is before Lomas snaps back “it’s what yer on now”, and thus an odd couple is born.

Within one episode Stanley is wooing the public, managing to transform into the Conservatives’ PR dream, and is making Boris look agreeable by association which is a truly terrifying thing. Politicians who were previous contestants were too eager and obvious in their attempts to curry favour with the Iceland shopping viewers, but the one-step-removed angle seems to be working.

The next logical idea for the Labour party must be Tommy Corbyn on Come Dine With Me.

Meanwhile the camp’s kids are made up of Vanessa, the one from the Saturdays no-one can remember, and “Youtube sensation” Jack Maynard, brother of Conor Maynard (who elicited a double “who?” from the couches). “I’m walking into the jungle single,” he states, as if he mistakenly thinks he’s on Love Island, before idiotically ensuring he’ll be picked for every trial by trilling “I’m never gonna say I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here!” 

Then there’s the glorious Geri Halliwell-esque Tinkerbell Georgia “Toff” Toffolo from Made in Chelsea, who is set up as the standard layabout posh-girl we’re all supposed to hate but actually is made of sterner stuff. She proves her Jilly Cooper heroine-style nerves of steel in the first task, prancing down a metal plank angled out of a high-rise building 334 feet in the air as if it was a gymnastics balance beam.

Rounding off the line up are Rebecca Vardy (wife of footballer Jamie) comedian Shappi Khorsandi and sports stars Dennis Wise and Amir Khan. Such is the low level of celebrity involved that when Jennie McAlpine arrives (Fizz from Corrie) it feels like that crazy time when Madonna turned up on the British National Lottery show. 

The camp is in the early stages where everyone’s first-day-of-school friendly. There is no celebrity sheen with this down-to-earth lot . “I’ve only ever been up a double ladder” ex-footballer Dennis Wise burbles like a local window-cleaner when faced with the thought of throwing himself out of a plane.

The winning formula this year seems to be to reject the show’s title and to not act like a famous person at all, which will probably prove to be easy with this mild bunch.  

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