I’m a Celebrity: Matt Hancock staggers on. Can he see Love Island on the horizon?

Television: The former British health secretary’s arrival caused uproar last week. But opinion appears to have turned

A week is a long time on I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! (Virgin Media One, daily, 9.15pm). Seven days ago the camp was in muttering uproar over the arrival of the former British health secretary Matt Hancock – as were viewers, who have put the MP forward for a record six consecutive bushtucker trials.

But now opinion inside and outside the celebrity settlement appears to have turned. For the second night running Hancock doesn’t even make the top two in the public vote. Instead that honour falls to Boy George and the DJ Chris Moyles – with Moyles ultimately going forward.

‘Some people get very excited by politicians and power. Some people are overdoing it,’ Boy George protests. ‘I feel Matt Hancock very hard to warm to. Everyone else I feel connected to’

It is surely no coincidence that the duo are also at the centre of this year’s mandatory I’m a Celeb mini-scandal. Moyles has been criticised for winding up the wet-behind-the-ears Hollyoaks actor Owen Warner. Boy George has ended up on the wrong side of viewers because of his constant grumbling about Hancock.

The Culture Club singer was perceived to have taken his dislike for Hancock too far when the former minister was stung by a scorpion. “I mean, I’m not laughing,” George said, breaking into a laugh. “I’m sure it was horrible, but…”


The theory about Hancock is that, his political career in the mire after the British government’s disastrous Covid response, he has signed up for I’m a Celeb in a bid for redemption. But on Tuesday the organisation Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice flew a banner over the site reading “Covid bereaved say get out of here!” So much for moving on.

Within the confines of I’m a Celeb, however, fewer and fewer hand grenades have been lobbed at Hancock. Last week everyone was whispering in their sleeves about how unbelievable it was that he was doing the show. But now the other contestants seem fascinated to be in the orbit of a one-time cabinet member. With one notable exception.

“Some people get very excited by politicians and power. Some people are overdoing it,” Boy George protests. “I feel him very hard to warm to. Everyone else I feel connected to.”

In the first Hancockless bushtucker trial the entertainment value is in watching the trio of Moyles, George and the actor and comedian Babatunde Aléshé fail abjectly. Aléshé is particularly cut up about it – prompting kind words from the usually withering Boy George.

Back at camp there is the extraordinary vista of the former England soccer star Jill Scott, the comedian Seann Walsh and – him again – Matt Hancock going for a jog through the broiling jungle. Walsh eventually retires in a sweaty heap. Scott sensibly calls it a day soon afterwards. Hancock continues – to Scott’s mystification. He should stop. Instead he crashes through the undergrowth. It’s a metaphor for his presence on the series: it’s preposterous he’s even here, yet on and on he staggers.

“If he collapses, I’m not giving him mouth-to-mouth,” Scott says, shrugging. “He might be on Love Island next year. That’s what he’s dreaming of.”