Welcome to the jungle… Yes, I’m a Celebrity is back and instantly into its stride, with a great mix of celebs (including an early favourite), some nerve-shredding challenges, the prospect of a first Bushtucker trial and our hosts looking like they’ve never been away…
Ant and Dec tackle the elephant in the room
No, that’s not the name of a new jungle trial involving the I’m a Celebrity presenters but a reference to the classy way in which the boys dealt with Ant’s recent stint in rehab.
Rather than ignore the issue, or skirt around it, the pair did what they do best and used jokes to defuse the situation.
As the show kicked off, Dec introduced his co-host… “Holly Willoughby”, before spotting Ant and telling him “we didn’t know if you’d be here…”
Later on, when Ant criticised a scale model of the camp, Dec responded “It took me all summer to make this. No help from this one. Where were you all summer anyway?”
A master-class in tackling a difficult issue head-on – and making it funny into the bargain.
The celebs buddy up
All week, viewers have been voting on the I’m a Celeb app to pair up the stars, resulting in some fitting duos.
Soap stars Jennie McAlpine and Jamie Lomas found themselves together, as did former footballer Dennis Wise and footballer’s wife Rebekah Vardy. Made In Chelsea’s Georgia “Toff” Toffolo and “YouTube sensation” Jack Maynard, meanwhile, couldn’t remember where they’d met before “but it was definitely drunk”.
That left clown’s dad Stanley Johnson happily paired with comedian Shappi Khorsandi and boxer Amir Khan with Vanessa White, formerly of girl band The Saturdays (ok, no immediate connection there but they’ve both had their fair share of hits, right? Amirite?).
Planks mean prizes
Of course, those parings weren’t just to give the celebs someone to chat to – they were teamed up to face their first challenges…
Dennis and Shappi went skydiving while their partners on the ground were scrabbling around among a host of unseen critters to fish out coloured plastic discs and attempt to work out which there were the most of. Rebekah got hers right, helping Dennis to win the group’s first meal ticket, but a miscalculation from Stanley meant the other one went begging.
It takes a lot to make a parachute jump look like an easy option but tottering along an extremely wobbly plank extending out into the void at the summit of a 32-storey sky-scraper just about manages it.
The planks produced some pretty hairy moments as Jennie and Jamie, Toff and Jack and Amir and Vanessa took on the challenge alongside one another, with both Jack and Vanessa finding themselves frozen to the spot. But they all got through it in the end, meaning a total of four meal tickets.
Back at camp, Jennie, Rebekah, Vanessa and the “always hungry” Toff got to feast on kangaroo steaks thanks to the generosity of their campmates while the others were left with rice and beans. They actually seemed to quite enjoy the basic rations – but let’s see how they feel when that’s all they’ve had to eat for a week…
Stanley’s the early favourite
While Boris Johnson may not be the most popular man in the country right now, when it comes to his dad Stanley, it’s a different matter. Johnson Sr is an early favourite with both the bookies and the viewers, thanks to his self-deprecating manner, his chivalrous views on the fairer sex – “as long as women are happy, men are happy, that’s one of the primary rules in life” – and his complete lack of understanding of who Ant and Dec are or what reality TV even is.
Who’s doing the first Bushtucker Trial?
The chance to see a champagne-swilling denizen of SW3 called Toff get covered in cockroaches was always going to prove too much of a temptation for the voting public, so it’s no surprise that she’ll be facing the first Bushtucker Trial.
But joining her will be Amir, who foolishly admitted on air that – along with heights – spiders and snakes are his biggest fears. Given that this is I’m a Celebrity and the Trial is called Critter-cal Rescue, he could be in trouble…
I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! is nightly on ITV at 9pm