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JUNGLE FURY: Will Matt Hancock Fare better or worse than Nadine Dorries did in the jungle?

EVEN if you have been living under a rock and have never watched I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, it would be hard to miss the controversy surrounding the smash-hit ITV1 show over recent weeks.

After the initial contestants arrived in the jungle and set up camp, Ant and Dec told them there was a latecomer on the way. That latecomer was no other than former Health Secretary and current MP for West Suffolk, Matt Hancock. Fellow camp dwellers and the public reacted to his arrival with a good deal of shock and anger. 

Members of the public want to know why he is not at work for his constituents. There have been varying petitions. One asked ITV to stop him from competing; another was to get him to stand down as an MP. Meanwhile, other contestants, including the singer Boy George, threatened to go home. Hancock had been England’s Health Secretary during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Government’s response at the start of the Pandemic left many people feeling more could have been done. In addition, the then Health Secretary had an affair and was caught on camera breaking his own social distancing rules. There is no doubt that Hancock is a controversial addition to the camp.

However, he is not the first serving MP to adventure into the Australian jungle. In 2012 it was the turn of Mid-Bedfordshire’s Nadine Dories. She reached minister status in Johnson’s cabinet before his MPs kicked him out of office. When Dories competed in the show, she was a relatively unknown backbenchMP. Her time in I’m a Celebrity raised her public profile. Even if it was only for her abject failure to complete three challenges. Before appearing on the show, she had said,

‘It can’t be that hard.’

She discovered to her cost that, in fact, it was much more challenging than she thought. She did eat lamb testicles and ostrich anus in a Bushtucker Trial but failed to endear herself to the public. Dorries was the first contestant to be voted out that year and, domestically, was suspended from the Conservative Party.  Hancock has also had the party whip suspended. He is having a different experience in the jungle, however. On arrival, he said that he was not aware of any phobias, which is just as well as he has had to do every trial and then got bitten by a scorpion to boot.

I’m a Celebrity has earned its cult status. The first series aired in 2002, attracting record audiences over the years. Viewers can vote on which camp members must undertake the infamous Bushtucker Trials. The camp’s inhabitants get any supper only by winning stars in those tasks. There are also other trials and tribulations facing contestants thrown together in tough surroundings. Viewers also get to vote the contestants off until, ultimately,a winner is crowned. Fans can also experience their own jungle training. There is a wide range of merchandise on sale in the ITV shop. In addition, the franchise has teamed up with Microgaming, who create online slots with some of the best no deposit bonuses, to invent an I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here game.

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Hancock has already done better in the jungle tasks that Dories did. He has had to do all the Bushtucker trials and has won supper for the camp every time. However, despite trying very hard, he is not endearing himself to the public. Many people are calling for a change to the rules, so that another celebrity has to face the grim challenges. Hancock is trying to come across as a regular guy who made a mistake and is now looking for forgiveness. While some are concerned that it is turning into the Matt Hancock show, it is unlikely that he will be there much longer.

The public will soon decide who they are going to send home. The chances are that they will be voting for Hancock again. He and Dorries appear to be equally unpopular. Maybe they should have just stuck to their day jobs

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