Celebrity Island: For attention seekers, life can be savage

Bumbling and deceptively oblivious, Eric Roberts proves to be the wisest on Bear Grylls’ island

Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls: Eric Roberts is a glorious study in unyielding obliviousness. Photograph: Channel 4

Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls: Eric Roberts is a glorious study in unyielding obliviousness. Photograph: Channel 4

 

Make no mistake, Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls is the antithesis of its cuddly cousin I’m A Celebrity. It’s not about sharing a hammock with an ex-premiership footballer or sucking down some pig scrotum with Shaun Ryder; it’s about the serious business of survival.

It’s about Bear standing astride his speedboat, combats flapping in the wind, squinting into the horizon, shouting about dehydration and how to make a shelter, like a dad sending their offspring to their debut festival.

With its dour premise it’s hard to understand why any celebrity would want to take part. At least the self-flagellation that happens on I’m A Celebrity can temporarily revive a career, net its participants some magazine covers, a spot on the This Morning couch, a weight-loss deal and a stay in the Versace hotel. Celebrity Island offers its castaways nothing but a sense of satisfaction that they will be more equipped than ever for the inevitable Brexit apocalypse.

For some from the reality telly cycle it’s an opportunity to feel useful. Pete Wicks from TOWIE takes it upon himself to lead the group to the beach where they can set up camp, determined to dispel any assumptions about his Essex wide-boy reputation or doubts about his “masculinity” due to him resembling a face-swap between Russell Brand and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, he endeavours to be Bear’s best boy scout.

People-pleasing hyperactivity

One minute he’s brandishing a machete hacking through the thicket, the next he’s running off to find a water source leaving journalist Paris Lees groaning at his blatant people-pleasing hyperactivity. Later when the girls strip off to wash themselves in the sea, Pete carries on with his work, “I don’t care who has their tits out, I’m just gonna sit here playing with me piece of wood” he sniffs without a hint of self-awareness.

Someone who doesn’t care about anyone’s opinion is actor Eric Roberts, brother of Julia, father of Emma, he is a glorious study in unyielding obliviousness. After almost drowning when swimming from the boat to the island with Martin Kemp coming to his rescue, he displays his gratitude by not bothering to learn the Spandau Ballet star’s name, repeatedly calling him Sam and then Colin with a nonchalant shrug of his shoulders.

He manages to endear himself to the group even further by brazenly polishing off all the emergency water on day one. Pottering about sounding like Iggy Pop with a peanut allergy, spouting Americanisms to no one in particular, he looks as though he’s been an island inhabitant for decades, dusty and dishevelled he appears to be a bumbling eccentric but proves to be anything but when it comes to having the measure of Roxanne Pallett.

Amazonian ninja woman

Yes, the troublesome Celebrity Big Brother contestant was first sequestered on the island before making her appearance in Borehamwood. She spends most of the episode burbling about not caring about her appearance and her transformation into “an Amazonian ninja woman”, which prompts Eric to ask “Are you saying that for us or is it for the camera?”, causing the actress to flounce off before becoming entangled in a fishing net leading to more tears.

Later that night she awakens the islanders, screaming that she’s had a panic attack due to the smokey air reminding her of a house fire from her childhood. By the morning she requests to leave; as she’s waved off to safety, Eric sighs “Great story, I wonder when the movie is coming out?” his knowing eyes twinkling in the sunshine like a shipwrecked Yoda.

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