Nigel Farage is a brilliant signing for I’m a Celebrity. Will this infamous right wing politician try to explain the Maastricht treaty to fellow contestants like Britney Spears‘ sister? Or debate his plan to ban immigrants from claiming benefits for five years to Tik Tok star Nella Rose- whose family originally came to Britain from the Congo via Belgium?
What fun we’ll have watching Nigel explain the shortcomings of the single market and the EU to Danielle from East Enders or Nick from Hollyoaks.
Sadly, that joy will have to wait. Currently, Nigel has been dumped in a remote area of the Australian bush with This Morning’s Josie Gibson and Nella, charged with winning challenges for the rest of the camp mates thousands of miles away in Queensland. All will be revealed on Sunday when Ant and Dec launch the new series.
How the Marmite Man of British politics performs in these gruelling opening days surrounded by sand, dust and sweltering heat- not mention millions of flies- will very much affect his relationships with the other contestants. If he fails to get them enough food- things could be tough. You can’t just talk food onto your plate out here, and pubs are few and far between.
What fun we’ll have watching Nigel explain the shortcomings of the single market and the EU to Danielle from East Enders or Nick from Hollyoaks, writes Janet Street-Porter
Nigel is set to be telly gold, no matter how inept his bush tucker trials turn out. Each season, producers manage a controversial signing that ensures discord around the campfire and massive viewing figures- hate figures who are chosen to submit to every humiliating trial. We want them to weep, to grovel, to fail- and why not? This is the only legitimate blood sport.
The casting criteria for I’m a Celeb’s annual villain are simple- they must stand out in a line up of bland second division soap and reality stars or relatives of the famous, all of whom are costing far less. They need a giant ego, a motor mouth, a certainty that they are right about everything. Normally these villains have never heard of any of the other signings- who will show them little or no respect in return.
It’s a no-brainer for people who’ve spent their previous lives being taken seriously- like Paul Burrell, Princess Diana’s butler, who joined me in the jungle back in 2004. Prissy Paul was more used to drinking out of dainty porcelain tea cups and mopping up Royal Corgi wee than dining on slugs and fighting off cockroaches in his underpants.
The Jungle is catnip to anyone fancying a career relaunch, and with the death of Diana, Burrell had a memoir to flog and plenty of gossip to sell (my task was to tease it out of him).
In the past, former Tory MPs Nadine Dorries and Edwina Currie tried and failed to win the Jungle Crown and gain our affection. Last year, ex-Health Minister Matt Hancock couldn’t resist the massive cash, after clandestine groping on camera in his office turned him into a laughing stock and his wife dumped him.
Matt tried to erase his shockingly lacklustre performance during covid by agreeing to eat camels’ testicles and swim through bugs, to sob in despair and wet his pants in front of millions of viewers. All to prove he was just like the rest of us- a man ‘in love’.
Did it work? No matter how much Matt desperately tryied to eradicate that creepy image fondling his assistant’s bottom, he only managed a creditable third. Amazingly, many female viewers admitted they ‘quite’ fancied him after nights spent watching him squirm in shit. Inevitably, the backlash from Covid and grieving relatives did for Matt’s chances.
Nigel Farage is a brilliant signing for I’m a Celebrity. Will this infamous right wing politician try to explain the Maastricht treaty to fellow contestants like Britney Spears’ sister? Pictured: Janet on I’m a Celebrity
Since then, Matt’s career has not soared in quite the way that he probably hoped. Ritually humiliated all over again on Celebrity SAS, he wasn’t chosen for the new season of Strictly. His deadly rival, former Labour MP and economics expert Ed Balls, has been far more successful in a host of reality show disciplines- from ballroom dancing, baking, to conducting an orchestra and tearfully discussing his struggles with a chronic stammer with Gareth Gates on daytime telly.
So will Nigel’s stint in the jungle- no matter how he fares- follow the route of perky Ed or the lacklustre trajectory of Matt?
Farage is a marmite character- one leftwing columnist has already whimpered to her readers ‘thousands of you have probably made the decision not to watch…as Nigel attempts to fun-wash himself’. Very wrong. Far from being a turn-off, Nigel Farage will be a show-stopper.
For starters, Farage is never short of chat, a huge advantage when it comes to blending in. Most campmates never stop talking 24x 7 as I found out during my time there. Sadly, they waffle on about stuff Nigel will never have heard of- social media, fashion, makeup, soap plot lines. Not a mention of treaties or trade deals or import quotas. And when they find out Nigel has been granted regular fag breaks, there will be serious grief from other smokers. He’ll need all his legendary (some say smarmy) charm.
To most campmates (apart from the Guardian food critic Grace Dent and First Date host Fred Sirieux), Nigel will be an elderly geezer with a posh accent, and I doubt anyone will be interested in his passionate loathing of the European Commission.
They’ll be more worried about his ability to win stars, not votes. Policies are non-existent in the jungle. It’s about surviving on rice and beans, not British pub fare like craft beer, pork chops and steak and kidney pie.
Farage has admitted the cash will come in handy, and- with Brexit done- that he needs to reach a different audience (the young) and find a new career. But what’s he good at?
He’s a extremely seductive orator, having persuaded millions of ordinary people to join his various rag bag parties and to vote for Britain to leave the EU. In the process he became the most famous politician in Britain who didn’t have a seat in Westminster. Now, he chats for cash by hosting a show on the right wing TV channel GB news, but that’s hardly got the same reach as presenting Loose Women or the One Show on a mainstream channel.
He’s led, and stepped down, from a series of new right wing parties over the last twenty years. Throughout all his successes, though, Nigel has remained curiously resilient. A former City trader and stockbroker, he’s like your new mate from the pub, never short of a witty retort.
But is he Nice Nigel or nasty Nige? I’m not sure. He jumped ship from UKIP when his backers got too friendly with the far right’s Tommy Robinson. In spite of all those votes for his various campaigns to leave the EU over the years, Nigel has failed in his main aim- which is to be in real power in the UK, in Westminster.
He says he’s patriotic but in 2021- Nasty Nige called the Royal Lifeboat institution a ‘taxi service for immigrants’- which saw their donations leap by 3,000% and a new lifeboat funded by Just Giving. Recently, he traded on his reputation as a boozer and earned some cash promoting Cornish Gin. Harmless enough.
And isn’t he good at rewriting reality? This autumn, claiming he’d been dumped by his bank- Coutts- for his political views. It emerged that the boss of Nat West (who own Coutts) had discussed his account with a journalist. When this became public knowledge, she stepped down and apologised and Nigel was offered his account back.
Nice Nigel claimed he’d won a victory for ordinary people whose politics might not be acceptable to their bankmanagers. But the truth is more complicated- Coutts required their customers to have several million pounds’ worth of assets as security – and it’s probably true that Nigel didn’t make the cut.
Will any of his new jungle pals recall that in 2014 Nasty Nigel said people with HIV should not be allowed into the UK, and he didn’t agree with same sex marriage? And that after Brexit, Nasty Nigel toured the states as warm up man for his new best friend, Donald Trump.
But as a showman Farage is supreme. Very few prominent MPs from the main parties can complete with his charisma and ability to pretend he speaking for the underdog.
The jungle will present no physical challenge either- he recovered from a serious car crash in 2008 with extensive physiotherapy, a terrible plane crash which saw him hospitalized with spinal injuries in 2010, and cancer in 2009.
Farage might be short of a testicle, but that’s never held him back.
Former winner Harry Redknapp has prophesied- ‘he could very well win’.
If that happens, will Nasty Nige return to the job he knows best?
And cause the Tories even more grief.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Daily Mail