This year’s series of I’m A Celebrity has been unprecedented in more ways than one – from the new Welsh castle location and the freezing temperatures, to the introduction of Kiosk Cledwyn – Kiosk Keith’s stone-faced UK replacement. However, the most noticeable difference between this series and the last 19 has to be the absence of any drama between the I’m A Celebrity 2020 line-up.
Aside from minor tensions between AJ Pritchard and Shane Richie over the washing-up, a bit of backseat cooking from Vernon Kay and some light-hearted debate over the identity of the privy’s “Phantom Dribbler”, this year’s camp has been more harmonious than Russell Watson‘s impromptu operatic performances.
We’ve seen none of the heated discussions, shouting matches and Dingo Dollar betrayals (à la Iain Lee and Amir Khan) we’re used to from ITV’s long-running reality series – much to the disappointment of various tabloids, which have blamed the show’s recent dip in ratings on campmates being “too nice” this year.
However, I don’t necessarily think the lack of tiffs, rivalries and hunger-fuelled squabbles has detracted from the much-loved series – in fact, watching the 12 celebrities bond with one another over the past three weeks has been exactly what we’ve needed whilst in lockdown.
Nothing provides a much-needed serotonin boost to socially-deprived viewers quite like the sight of Mo Farah bopping along as Ruthie Henshall teaches the group Chicago choreography. Similarly, those who’ve been starved of human touch throughout November have been able to live vicariously through the bunch of relative strangers as they eagerly embrace one another after winning just a handful of jellybeans in a Castle Coin challenge.
Watching the eclectic bunch of campmates chat, laugh and sometimes cry together has been a highly entertaining yet emotional rollercoaster which has led to some of the series’ funniest moments so far.
From Shane Richie and a giggly Jordan North showering together as a bewildered Vernon watches on and Victoria Derbyshire brushing up her supermarket jokes a Lidl, to Shane and Jessica Plummer encouraging one another whilst gagging on vile drinks in one of the funniest trials in the show’s history – I’m A Celeb’s 20th series has provided a number of side-splitting moments that wouldn’t have happened had the campmates not grown so close in the castle.
The tight-knit nature of this year’s camp has also led to a whole load of beans being spilled outside of the castle kitchen. Throughout the series, we’ve watched as the celebs began to relax around one another and let their guards down – with Beverley Callard gushing over her husband Jon in a rather hilarious way, and Ruthie reflecting on her early romance with Prince Edward (cut to Peter Morgan furiously making notes for season five of The Crown).
We’ve also been a fly-on-the-castle-wall during fascinating conversations about the most famous people in the campmates’ phones (Mo Farah has Anthony Joshua’s digits), their biggest on-screen faux pas (Victoria Derbyshire’s Jeremy Hunt mispronunciation needs no further explanation) and career-defining moments (Vernon Kay howling at Tony Blair in Chequers) – all of which have provided audiences with insight into the lives of these otherwise seemingly ordinary celebrities.
In fact, last night’s episode proved all of the above points as we watched the remaining eight celebrities (prior to Jessica and Russell’s elimination) visit the Castle’s pub for a well-earned treat. After the ravenous group devoured their pie and chips, they boozily took to the karaoke machine as Jordan delivered a shouty rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, Vernon broke out his break-dancing skills and Mo Farah stumbled over the words to Spandau Ballet’s Gold while the other campmates cheered, laughed and danced along.
The whole six minute segment left myself, and judging by Twitter, a large number of viewers grinning from ear to ear as the campmates became the first people in the UK to properly enjoy a pub for the first time since March and nicely summed up this year’s series in a joyous nutshell.
Yes, the 2020 series may have been the least dramatic I’m A Celeb outing we’ve seen in years but in dark times like these, the friendly, rib-tickling and intimate atmosphere within the camp makes for a perfect end to a horrible year.