In the end there is no Matt trick for I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!’s most controversial contestant. After almost three weeks, more than a dozen bushtucker trials and the occasional weird dance, Matt Hancock’s jungle odyssey has come to an end. The former British health secretary places third in the I’m a Celebrity final, defying predictions that he’d be the first participant to be eliminated by an angry British public.
Hancock is the first contestant voted off in the three-way decider (Virgin Media One, Sunday, 9pm) that sees the former England and Manchester City soccer player Jill Scott crowned queen of the jungle, ahead of the Hollyoaks soap star Owen Warner.
Matt Hancock won his campmates around largely because he was prepared to take the pain and humiliation of the bushtucker trials, and win them those all-important mealtime perks
It has been a tumultuous few weeks for Hancock, who has earned a reported £400,000, or €465,000, for his time in the jungle. Parachuted into the competition several days after the first contestants arrived in the Australian jungle, he initially seemed likely to prompt the departure, in protest, of several fellow contestants. But he won them around – largely because he was prepared to take the pain and humiliation of the bushtucker trials, and win his campmates those all-important mealtime perks.
He rises to the mucky moment once again in the finale, maintaining his dignity as he is submerged in water and forced to share the tank with a lobster, several eels and some Australian molluscs that make a beeline for his crotch.
“People think they know me, but they don’t,” he tells Ant and Dec, the reality show’s hosts, after becoming the first finalist to be eliminated.
Reminded that his participation has been contentious, Hancock repeats his mantra that he wanted to show that politicians aren’t stiffs in suits but people who, just like everyone else, contain a multitude. “We’ve all got lots of sides to our personalities.” He added: “I just wanted to show what I’m like as a person. Lots of people come to me with preconceived ideas for lots of reasons. And I just wanted to be myself.”
Three weeks under the canopy may have humanised Hancock, but his team back in Britain have been quietly beavering away on his behalf, with a sophisticated TikTok operation believed to have led to a groundswell of younger viewers voting for him.
With the rest of the I’m a Celebrity class of 2022 watching, Jill Scott is delighted to be crowned queen of the jungle. ‘The most genuine person in there,’ says her fellow contestant Mike Tindall, the former England rugby player
Still, those votes aren’t enough as Owen and Jill make it to the final round. With the rest of the I’m a Celebrity class of 2022 watching, Jill is delighted to be crowned queen of the jungle.
“The most genuine person in there,” says her fellow contestant Mike Tindall, the former England rugby player. “A nice person,” adds Boy George (this year’s highest-paid contestant, it is believed, with an estimated fee of at least £500,000). “She is who she is.”
Scott is predicted to make millions in endorsements on the back of her win.
Hancock may feel that ITV viewers are going to come away knowing who he really is. Will that be enough to revive his moribund political career? He’s now an Independent MP – the Conservative parliamentary party suspended him for taking part, and Rishi Sunak, the UK prime minister, said he was “very disappointed” by the MP’s decision to leave his constituents for the reality show.
Hancock has just over a week to decide whether to put his name forward to run again as a Conservative. There’s been speculation that entering the jungle is part of a plan Hancock has mapped out to leave politics — he certainly wasted no time thanking his TikTok followers after the final.
If he decides he wants to remain a Tory MP, however – and assuming his constituency party doesn’t decide in the meantime to deselect him as its candidate in the next UK general election – will local voters back him again or follow the lead of I’m a Celebrity viewers and, when it comes to the crunch, ditch him?