What does it mean to be a winner on I’m a Celebrity? Sure, for the individual crowned King or Queen of the Jungle, it's vindication for weeks spent chewing on marsupial knackers, but that’s not what I'm on about. No, a real win on I’m a Celebrity means making such an impression on the public while you’re in the jungle that you return to Blighty with oodles of TV appearances, advert commissions and six-figure tabloid payouts awaiting you.
In short, a win on I’m a Celebrity means never having to appear on the show, or any others like it, again. And there are a few sure-fire ways in which the celebs can go about getting noticed by the viewers. So, if Jessica, Freddie, Mark and the gang want to keep the public hanging on their every word when the Bushtucker trials are but a distant memory, they’d do well to ape one of these I’m a Celeb clichés…
1. Start a relationship
When Peter Andre and Katie Price hit the jungle in 2004, he was a washed up ‘90s pop-star and she was a glamour model whose most recent appearance had been in gentleman’s favourite, Playboy. But when the pair started getting frisky and heating things up at the camp, a celebrity phenomenon was born. While the fairytale marriage didn’t last, it gave them their own TV series, acres of magazine coverage and two children to boot. Seeing as neither of them are ever off the front pages of Now, Grazia and the like, I’d say their time in the jungle was well spent indeed…
2. Bare more than just your soul
The other members of Hear’Say must’ve been kicking themselves when they saw their shapely ex-bandmate stood under the I’m a Celeb waterfall in 2006, showering off in that white bikini. Having set the national, and indeed international, pulse racing, Klass’s agent was inundated with enough offers from newspapers and magazines that she could have emerged from the jungle an instant millionaire. And if it’s true that people remember things better after they’ve written them down, the thousands and thousands of people who hammered her name into Google hunting for pictures of are proof that the show thrust her very prominently back into the public consciousness.
3. Be honest
This ploy only works if you’re a genuinely nice person – or you can fake it. Kerry Katona won the public round in 2004 by being bubbly, charming and helping Peter and Jordan get together but her post-jungle career doesn’t bear dwelling on. However, someone who genuinely managed to win by just being plain lovely was Stacey Solomon. Nicknamed the ‘diva from Dagenham’ thanks to her stint on the X Factor, Stacey’s bubbly Essex personality and willingness to get stuck in to the show’s stomach-churning challenges proved how down to earth she was and won her a place in the nation’s heart. And she’s still going strong, having added Sing if You Can on ITV to her CV, she’ll soon be appearing alongside Chris Moyles on The Love Machine. She even got the Iceland ad deal after Kerry got the boot. Sometimes nice folk don’t finish last…
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4. Rehabilitate yourself
Everyone thought Shaun Ryder was just another hard-living rock star before he headed Down Under, but the former Happy Mondays frontman shocked everyone by proving that he was witty, wise and a genuine man of the people. The tipping point for Ryder came after spending weeks having a whiny Gillian McKeith twisting his melon, when he let rip at her with a tirade that precisely echoed everything we’d all been saying about her at home. Couple that with his “kangaroo p****!” jokes with Stacey Solomon and the man was re-born in the eyes of the nation as a salt-of-the-earth figure who’s still regularly called on to appear on TV.
5. Be weird and storm off
John Lydon had been out of the public eye for quite a while before he turned up on I’m a Celebrity and called the viewers “f****** c***s” live on air. With an entrance like that, no-one suspected that he’d end up a public favourite, but his fights with Jordan and his sneery and eccentric manner tickled a lot of viewers who agreed with him that show’s premise is a bit on the daft side. After he’d done the punk thing and walked out, commissioning editors were falling over themselves to capture more of his quirkiness for the small screen, first with a series of nature documentaries, and after those a lucrative butter ad deal. Scoff if you want, but the dosh earned from all this extra exposure meant he was able to reform his band Public Image Limited on his own terms…
So if you ever happen to find yourself being elevated to the D-list by being interviewed on local radio and the ITV bods come a-callin’, follow one of these rules and you’ll be well away. And if you can’t do that? Make like Fran Cosgrave. Sometimes just being there’s enough to ensure immortality.