I’m watching I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and wondering what happened to Britain. These people used to run the world. Now they spend their evenings watching Z-list celebrities participate in quizzes – about themselves.
The show takes place in the jungle. The jungle has never looked so much like the smoking balcony of a minor Asian airport. The setting allows the two hosts, chirpy leprechauns staggering around under the weight of their own foreheads, to pretend to be real people.
If only there was a standard British box hedge in the background, the audience would have a frame of reference, realise that these men are damaged and get them the help they so desperately need. Their names are Ant and Dec, being too small to operate under the weight of real names.
They must be complete arseholes, because their hairdresser hates them. Instead of trying to mask their bulbous foreheads with a polite curtain of hair, it is styled up to the sky to add 2cm to their stature. The effect is experimental frigate chic. The wardrobe department has so far avoided pinstriped suits, platform shoes and tiny dogs, but who knows how long they can hold out.
With those powers combined, the Irish pre-teen boy band/Morecambe and Wise mash-up may be able to one day walk among us in defiance of god’s will. Here’s a zucchini from my pants – oh, he’s not eatin’ it! What are ya like? I don’t know Ant and/or Dec, what are you like? I don’t think either of us really wants to know the answer to that question.
Their biggest fan sent them a crude drawing which they criticised because it was coloured outside the lines. Alan, 46, from Cheshire, hanged himself three days later. He is survived by his wife, which his mother knitted for him from drain hair. Amazingly, this event fails to make the show any sadder.
The campers or celebrities or whatever they are, go through challenges designed to make them throw up. Tonight they sent a camp ex-soap actor down a dark slimy tunnel filled with cockroaches, frogs, worms and filth, looking for cheap plastic stars nestled in piles of shit. A stirring recreation of the casting process for the show itself. Meta.
These challenges are all foils for the most difficult task, which is the brutal chit-chat each contestant is dragged through by Ant and Dec. They strain to find the larrikins as delightful as middle Britain apparently does. They laugh too late, too hard and stop whenever they sense an impending close-up, aping the joy that eludes them.
I was going to write a bio for each contestant to inform the Australian audience of what the show assumes we know about them. But I realised that this would be pointless: You know as much about them as anyone else does.
The girls under 30 take a lot of long, giggly showers together. I’m so glad they’re raising awareness of the burden that women under 30 must suffer. Years of my life were wasted taking joint showers, up to 40 minutes at a time, at least three times a day. My doctor informs me that most of my skin is gone and that the giggling has done irreparable damage to my diaphragm. It really is crippling, all that involuntary tit bouncing and ass soaping. Their mouths are smiling but their eyes whisper, “Where is the cure for this disease?”
Tonight, an ageing DJ tried to watch them shower by offering to ride the shower bike (a Gilligan’s Island-style bike that makes the shower water flow). He said it was OK, like an uncle thing. Meanwhile, in London, his niece and nephew take turns stapling their underpants to their bodies in preparation for his return to civilisation.
The ranks of celebrity have swelled to an army. One day there will be more people on TV than actually watching it. On this day, every Nielsen box will simultaneously explode, showering us all with prizes and we will have a nice party where we will talk endlessly about ourselves and our feelings and the attractive people will shower to great applause.