I’m an MP… Get Me on the TV! Nadine Dorries and the politicians turned reality stars

From Ann Widdecombe's Strictly Come Dancing acrobatics to George Galloway's infamous cat impression, take a trip down political celebrity memory lane


A stint in the I’m a Celebrity jungle is far from a relaxing spa experience, so why would Tory MP Nadine Corries swap her cosy Mid Bedfordshire constituency for a bug-infested jungle hammock? That was the question on everyone’s lips this morning, as news of her appearance in the ITV1 reality show filtered into the public domain. Well, that and the subsequent criticism aimed at her absence from paraliament during a number of important Commons votes. Ms Dorries said, “Rather than MPs talking to other MPs about issues in Parliament, I think MPs should be going to where people go.” Which, in case you haven’t noticed, is not the Australian wilderness…


But the 55-year-old has made clear her intent to bring politics to the campfire: “There are certain causes that I’m interested in, one of which is ’20 Weeks’ [a campaign to change abortion laws]. I hope there will be some lively, heated debates.” And it would not be the first time that politicians have found themselves appearing on reality television. Cast your mind back to…


George Galloway – current Member of Parliament for Bradford West. Perhaps not what you’d expect given that back in 2006 – as the left-wing Respect Party MP for Bethnal Green and Bow – he appeared on the fourth series of Celebrity Big Brother. Much like rumoured I’m a Celebrity contestant, Nadine Dorries, Galloway took leave of office to take part in the Channel 4 reality show alongside housemates Jodie Marsh, Pete Burns and eventual winner Chantelle Houghton. But it was his performance in a role-play task with actress Rula Lenska for which he is most memorable, as the pair imitated a cat and its owner – with George playing the cat. If you can bear to watch him pretending to lick milk from her cupped hands, check out the video below. You have been warned…

Rewind back to 2006 and politician Lembit Opik was a Liberal Democrat MP, representing the constituents of Montgomeryshire, Wales and engaged to respectable ITV weather presenter Sian Lloyd. But skip forward a few years and Opik had split with Lloyd, taken up with a series of younger girlfriends – including a brief engagement to Cheeky Girl Gabriela Irimia –  and followed in her reality footsteps by appearing on 2010’s I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! Unfortunately for Opik, his days of winning votes were clearly over, when he became the second Z-eleb to be voted off the show. Some suggested his elimination was down to limited entertainment value – compare his theatrics in this Bush Tucker Trial to neurotic co-camper Gillian McKeith and you begin to understand why… 

Since losing her parliamentary seat back in 1997, Conservative Party MP and former Junior Health Minister Edwina Currie has been no stranger to reality television. Following a brave stint on Wife Swap with John McCririck, and a torrid spell on Hell’s Kitchen mentored by chef Gorden Ramsay – who labelled her a “pathetic b***h” – she swapped her mucky apron for sparkly sequins, appearing on 2011’s Strictly Come Dancing. A delighted Edwina took to the floor in the first week, dancing the Cha Cha Cha with Vincent Simone, but her wiggling hips, broad smile and…erm…knicker flashing were not enough to save her, and she was the first contestant to be voted off the competition. 

And how could we talk about Strictly without the mention of former Conservative MP and cabinet minister Ann Widdecombe? The one-time politician pirouetted from the House of Commons to the ballroom in 2010 with her participation in the BBC’s dance talent contest. Partnered by Anton du Beke, her performances underwhelmed the judging panel but delighted audiences prompting a surge in Widdecombe’s popularity. She dodged elimination week-on-week by flying, hopping and being dragged across the Strictly dance floor. For an entertaining example of the latter, see below…

And finally, cast your mind back to 2008, when the Met’s former Deputy Assistant Commissioner and mayoral candidate Brian Paddick swapped boardrooms for Bush Tucker Trials. You may question why a politician would choose to take on the rats, snakes and host of creepy crawlies that the jungle has to offer? “For a long time I’ve been doing serious stuff,” said Brian. “I thought why not come and do something trivial.” I think we can all agree there’s nothing trivial about the camel penis cocktail Paddick had to consume in his Last Chance Saloon Bushtucker trial – check out his horrified face in the video below: