I’m a Celebrity: Andrew Maxwell has always seemed overwhelmed by life

The Irish comic was miserable on the reality show. Pasty and peeved, he felt like one of us

Bridge of sighs: Andrew Maxwell leaves the jungle after being voted off I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

Bridge of sighs: Andrew Maxwell leaves the jungle after being voted off I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

 

When contestants are booted off I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! they usually show their indifference to their lack of popularity in the public vote by cantering triumphantly across the rope bridge that divides the contestants’ camp from Ant and Dec’s jungle HQ. They’re so happy! For the opportunity to have earned €50,000 or so by scoffing bugs and dingo testes! And because they are finally free! Technically they may have lost, but if you would care to pay attention, they’re the true winners.

Such brand management was of negligible interest to Andrew Maxwell as he became the second of the class of 2019 to be expelled (following the radio presenter and Nadine Coyle bestie Adele Roberts). The Dublin comedian thus cut an atypical figure. No whoops or high-fives. Instead he mooched across the rope bridge with a steady gaze, seemingly torn between hurt at the rejection and relief that he had endured the last of Ian Wright’s bedside banter.

Maxwell has grown into one of the series’s break-out character studies. I’m a Celebrity… tradition dictates that participants approach the ordeal as an opportunity to connect with their better selves. But the Irishman gave the self-help a skip and was openly miserable for much of his 16 days on the reality show.

Pasty, unshaven, a bit peeved, Andrew Maxwell felt like one of us. A hapless punter parachuted into a rainforest populated by arachnids, leeches and Z-listers

Perhaps that’s why he was so easy to empathise with. Pasty, unshaven, a bit peeved, he felt like one of us. A hapless punter parachuted into a rainforest populated by arachnids, leeches and Z-listers. Who among us wouldn’t have ended up feuding with Wright over the final morsel of fried crocodile?

Still, Maxwell had read the small print. If his body language communicated indifference, he nonetheless crooned dutifully from the Celeb hymn sheet. “It really was hard-core,” he told Ant and Dec during his debriefing, “an amazing experience.”

Part of the fun of I’m a Celebrity… is watching stage-managed personalities unravel like an eight-year-old’s attempt at tying a shoelace. Maxwell, however, has always had the air of someone slightly overwhelmed by life – it’s a signature of his comedy – and he held true to that in the jungle.

There were those early clashes with Wright, in which each appeared to whip the other into bug-eyed paranoia around the campfire. And there was his weird moment referring to Kate Garraway as “my love” as she saw her life flash before her during a high-altitude challenge in the opening episode.

Ant and Dec made sure to remind Maxwell of this after his expulsion, yelling “my love, my love” as he negotiated the rope bridge. He smiled, as he did when they replayed footage of him almost choking on undercooked chicken. But his highlight reel was otherwise low on explosive moments.

The real challenge posed by I’m a Celebrity…, Maxwell suggested, was tedium. After a few days you’re gagging to participate in a bushtucker trial. Anything – even being menaced by a snake – is more fun than dozing in a hammock as you will the hours to dribble by.

“You can’t speed it up,” he explained. “There’s nothing you can do. Those hours are going to be there. Either sleep it off, fill it with conversation or count the trees.”

‘So many sublime moments,’ Maxwell told Ant and Dec. And suddenly, and slightly alarmingly, he was waxing lyrical

He was diplomatic about his disagreements with Wright. “I love the man. We are really similar. We’ve got the same rhythm of being down and missing our families. [There was] never a moment of personal animosity. What’s not to love about the man?”

And with that it was off into the sunset, a warm bed and absolutely no obligation to feast on marsupial genitals. It was a relatively brief tropical sojourn, and you wonder whether it will boost the audience for Maxwell’s comedy. He wasn’t exactly a bundle of chortles.

But he’s been there, done that and is richer by about €60,000, his estimated fee for participating in the jungle bungle. “So many sublime moments,” Maxwell told Ant and Dec. And suddenly, and slightly alarmingly, he was waxing lyrical. “We all got to know each other – to understand each other… One of my happiest moments was just watching the trees sway. Me and Ian in hammocks, looking at trees.”

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