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Home > Media

I'm All Right Jack

1 February 2004

And so it goes…

Up and down goes the drawbridge (whose terrible idea was that?) and boring night follows boring day follows boring night, and John says “fuck” at something and everyone looks a bit awkward and aren’t Peter Andre’s arms big? And doesn’t Mike Reid look the spit of Princess Anne? And why can’t Diane Modahl shut up for just a moment, so the others can get a word in edgeways?

I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here is grinding through its third and boringest incarnation. But sadly, the show isn’t only boring. If these pointless farts were allowed to mudge around their campsite, bickering and snoozing and listening to Diane Modahl witter on, then fine – no harm done. Instead, the harm gets done to a load of innocent creepy crawlies who get variously dropped on, eaten by or shoved in the face of C-list celebrities.

This programme undertakes a profound objectification of the jungle and its wildlife. The Jungle is a place where the celebrities are – a challenge to be overcome. A nasty place where nasty things live. “The Jungle”. Like there’s only one of it. The programme has landed in The Jungle, built its drawbridges and editing suites, and a couple of weeks from now will fuck off back to London – leaving behind it the tattered shreds of John Lydon’s dignity and a trail of dead. Dead insects, dead spiders, dead bugs, and a dead eel.

The death of the eel in the first ‘bushtucker trial’ was haunting. Into Neil Ruddock’s plastic head bubble went a load of beetles and grubs, followed by a writhing, dying eel. It was a truly grotesque way to go: flapping around against Neil Ruddock’s whiskers, curling and thrashing on a sea of scrabbling locusts, with TV cameras filming its every last twitch.


Then, when the challenge was over, the bubble was lifted clear, and the eel slumped to the floor on a pile of confused insects and lay there. Dead. As Ant and Dec hooted their appreciation, and Neil tried to dislodge a bug from his ear, we caught glimpses of the eel. Motionless on the jungle floor. Used up. Its time in the sun over.

The programme is sending out a very clear message about wildlife: these bugs and beetles and eels are only important insofar as they are a part of the entertainment. They are props. Tools. Things to be waved around and screeched at, and if they’re lucky they get to fall down Jordan’s top and give us all a chuckle.

The producers of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here are trying to make a cheap, cheerful entertainment programme, yes – but they are also presenting to the nation (and thereby endorsing) a particular way of behaving towards the world which is consumer-driven, selfish and uncaring. The world is out there to be consumed by us, in order to gratify our every last whim. What matters is that we are happy; that we are kept entertained.

As long as we’re all right, the rest of the world go hang.

Eels and all.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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