The main attraction of this season’s I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! was expected to be Nigel Farage. His participation was intended to energize the entire show, as previous appearances from politicians have done. He would make an entrance, the other contestants would confront him, he would be tasked with completing numerous unpleasant challenges, and ultimately he would earn some admiration for his determination but end up in fourth place.
However, that scenario has not actually occurred. Farage was given a payment of £1.5 million to make an appearance on the television show, I’m a Celebrity. However, it seems that he has not been able to attract many viewers. Only 7 million people tuned in for the first episode this year, while in 2022, over 9 million viewers watched. This is a significant decrease, even considering the trend of viewers moving away from traditional TV channels. It could potentially even mark the downfall of the show entirely.
Unfortunately, Farage’s presence on the show has not had the same impact as expected. In comparison, when Matt Hancock joined the show last year, his actions and behavior immediately took center stage. His fellow contestants were so shocked by his appearance that some even considered leaving the show. While it was a calculated move by the producers, it did make for exciting television.
In contrast, Farage was not warmly received by his fellow campmates, who valued peaceful interactions over confrontational behavior. Only Fred Sirieix and Nella Rose have directly addressed Farage’s political views, but his evasiveness made it challenging for them to make an impact. He has been likened to a prejudiced family member at a holiday gathering – unwanted but tolerated. Surprisingly, ITV paid him £1.5m for his participation in the show, which has proved to be a regrettable investment on their part.
During a recent Instagram live, Ant and Dec expressed their support for a temporary ban on including politicians in their show. They suggested taking a break from featuring politicians for a year, to which they both agreed. This is understandable as they were previously praised for openly criticizing the Johnson government on their show, but now those same politicians are using the show as part of their image rehabilitation efforts. It’s possible that even someone like Farage could end up on the show and Ant and Dec may have to interact with him, which could lead to unwanted images being associated with their names. It’s no surprise they are calling for a change in this practice.
However, there is more than one battle that I’m a Celebrity is facing. A recent open letter from Chris Packham denouncing the show’s mistreatment of animals has brought attention to one of the show’s long-standing criticisms. For many years, the show’s bushtucker trials have been uncomfortable to watch due to the use of animals in close proximity to distressed and agitated celebrities. The RSPCA has launched a campaign to end this practice, citing instances where animals were harmed or subjected to overcrowding and rough handling for the sake of entertainment. Last year, 17,000 complaints were filed with Ofcom regarding this issue. With Packham’s involvement, it is likely that the number of complaints will increase this year.
Reworded: The show I’m a Celebrity now reflects its true nature, resembling the outdated entertainment of the 2000s with its familiar elements of cruelty, conflict, and neglect for animal welfare. The declining ratings suggest that viewers are losing interest in this format. What is the next step?
I’m a Celebrity has two choices. It can either make significant changes by removing the politicians and animals and becoming a show about kind individuals who occasionally have to navigate through unpleasant obstacles for sustenance. Alternatively, it can surrender. No TV show can remain popular forever. Preferences shift and people move on. Based on the disappointing performance of this year’s show, it may be too late for I’m a Celebrity to adjust. The signs are clear. Maybe it’s time to end the entire production.