EastEnder is crowned Queen of the Jungle

After three long, trial-filled weeks, Charlie Brooks wins I'm a Celebrity

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The Independent Culture

It's been emotional, sort of, but then of course it has. It always is. It's also been predictable, repetitive, and distinctly déjà vu-ish. Frankly, how could a programme now into its 12th series be anything else?

I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! is nothing if not slavishly loyal to its incontestably successful format. And so, inevitably, last night's final featured its two remaining contestants Ω former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts, and EastEnder Charlie Brooks Ω trying not to gag, hurl, and retch while forcing a camel's penis and turkey testicles down their throats. In another universe, such a sentence would read like a typo, a mistake, surely, but in this one, on ITV on Saturday nights, nothing quite rivals the entertainment factor of a fading pop or soap star making loud vomiting noises while impish hosts, Ant and Dec, watch on in a fit of scripted giggles.

"How much of the penis do I have to eat?" Roberts queried. After completing her task, she said: "I'm not going to eat anything like that ever again in my entire life." Always good to clear up any lingering doubt in the mind of the viewer.

In a series that so mirrored its predecessors it was difficult to remember, three long weeks in, whether it was David Haye bitten during a trial or Shaun Ryder (it was Haye, by something called a bandicoot; Ryder was the year before, or quite possibly the year before that), IACGMOOH's only masterstroke this time around was in signing up Nadine Dorries, the serving Tory MP who caused consternation in the House by exchanging her constituency duties for ostrich arse. It was Dorries who got us all tuning in to watch, at least initially, as she singularly failed in getting any promised political talk on screen whatsoever ("all edited out," she'd doubtless complain). And of course, it was Dorries who was voted off first.

After her departure, it was all much of a muchness: annoying toffs, crafty cockneys and cuddly TV chefs; bugs, snakes, shower scenes, endless bitching and much duplicitous back-stabbing, while Ant and Dec, looking terribly short in fitted denim, sent the same poor celeb off to bushtucker trial hell night after night.

But at least Coronation Street's Helen Flanagan, this year's melodramatic banshee and able successor to previous years' Paul Burrell and Natalie Appleton, proved multi-faceted in the role. Not only could she get hysterical over sleeping with spiders, she could look fab in a bikini.

In the final, an hour of "girl power" declarations and hysterical highlights came down to perhaps an obvious victor: not the American interloper, but our own over-familiar soap star, Charlie Brooks. She may want her stomach pumped of turkey entrails, but she showed the requisite pluck and fortitude with an awful lot of earthy likeability. Bless.

As the credits rolled, she crossed that unstable bridge to fireworks, paparazzi flashes, and untold riches: an invitation on next year's Celebrity Big Brother, perhaps? But, more likely, surely to be crowned the new face of the show's sponsors, Iceland, with all the mini lasagna bites she can eat.

Lucky gal.