I'm A Celebrity... 2023 review: Nigel Farage enters the snakepit but is he the new Matt Hancock?

 (ITV / I'm A Celebrity starts Sunday 19th November, 9pm on ITV1 and ITVX)
(ITV / I'm A Celebrity starts Sunday 19th November, 9pm on ITV1 and ITVX)

Nigel Farage eating kangaroo testicles.” There you go. That concludes everything that needs to be said and the only things that anyone is even remotely interested in hearing about when it comes to this utterly obsolete, profoundly depressing cul-de-sac – or sack – of a TV non-event. Now be off with you.

Oh. You’re still here? Indulge me with a quick experiment.

Ask the five people sitting closest to you right now to name any contestant other than Matt Hancock in last year’s I’m A Celebrity. Extra points if they can tell you who won.

In fact, I will personally deliver them a doughnut if they can do the latter, so certain that I am that no one will be able to. Next season, they honestly may as well just cut to the chase: pay Liz Truss the big bucks to sit in a room with trees in it and film a YouTube clip of her munching on weird stuff so we can all move on.

Because as with so many other things – not least his own life – Matt Hancock has ruined I’m A Celebrity, farting the final nail into what is an already-stinky corpse. The arrival of Nigel Farage this time around demonstrates that a playbook has now been established.

That being: pay millions for a supervillain politician who will inevitably win the public vote to do every single bushtucker trial. Fill out the rest of the contestant base with people your dad can WhatsApp his usual “Well, they’re stretching the definition of celebrity here, aren’t they!?” line to you about. Include one who producers can coerce into having an extended shower in their bikini. Et-boring-cetera.

Within about two minutes, he had turned up and the “lol, Brexit” stuff had begun. 'It's something different in life, it's an adventure! It's a challenge, it's not going to be easy, but why not?' Farage said as Josie Gibson (she’s on This Morning, apparently) arrived. "It can't be worse than Brexit!" she quipped back. Off they went driving across the outback. “Did he veer off a bit too far to the right?” said Ant, or maybe Dec, to that crew laughter which they may as well just replace with canned laughter.

All of this is fine when it comes to generating column inches and front-page pictures. But this Faragification renders the show itself, as a viewing experience, unbelievably tedious. It’s now just a slow, dull “I can’t wait for the public to see the real me!” – peppered wait for his inevitable putting of his head into a box of snakes while saying mean thingsabout Rishi Sunak or David Cameron or whoever that the papers can translate into clickbait. From the word go, the non-Nige contestants are a sad irrelevance to proceedings, destined to only offer up the occasional “He’s actuallyalright, you know” in between mosquito bites.

Plus, anyway: Jamie-Lynn Spears will not say anything – or at least anything that ITV’s legal team will allow us to see – about her sister. The boyband dude, Marvin Humes, has been happily married for over a decade so nothing doing there. The soap/reality peeps – Tony from Hollyoaks, Lola from EastEnders, Josie from Big Brother, Sam from Made In Chelsea – are not interesting enough to form half of a Peter Andre-and-Jordan style gossip mag couple. Fred Siriex will take the role of avuncular voice of reason person and probably win. Grace Dent is much too clever to be here. And Nella Rose? Well, they’re stretching the definition of celebrity here, aren’t they!?

And so the long wait to witness tired old bollocks going into – rather than coming out of – Nigel Farage’s mouth begins. See you there. Or maybe not.