He was a former Sex Pistol with credibility to spare. Then he joined a bunch of B-list celebrities and many felt that John Lydon had finally sold out to commercialism.
Thankfully, Lydon - or Johnny Rotten, as most people know him - has stayed true to form, turning I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here into his best vehicle for self promotion since delivering a string of expletives on the Bill Grundy show in 1976 and launching the punk explosion.
Walking out of the jungle-survivor show yesterday saying he knew he would win and thought that would be unfair on the others merely reinforced his capacity to do the opposite of what people expect.
Lydon, 47, threatened not to appear when he was first listed by the show's producers as a member of the cast. But then, when he eventually turned up, he appeared to embrace the the whole idea. He became chummy with people such as Lord Brocket, the disgraced peer, and the pop star Peter Andre (for whom the Sex Pistols would surely have found new expletives), and sided with the celebrities in demanding more food and drink from the producers as the programme entered its second week. He did start talking to lizards and bad-mouthed the others, but that is all part of the fun on this programme.
His sympathetic turn found favour with the viewers, and bookmakers made him 13/8 favourite to win. Even when he cursed viewers and said the word cunts, after being told he would not be evicted on Tuesday night, only about 100 people complained out of an audience of about 10 million. Times have certainly changed since the Grundy days.
So, just as Lydon was set to become another B-list celebrity, in the early hours of yesterday he started a fire on the edge of the camp and complained to producers that he was bored and wanted some chocolate.
Lydon then carried out the threat he had made several times before and walked out, after first persuading producers to lower the drawbridge that isolates the contestants. He checked into a five-star hotel, refusing to join the other evictees. He did hug the remaining contestants before he left though.
Last night's programme showed Lydon explaining he had to leave because he suspected he would win outright. "I don't think that's right," he said. "I don't see any competition around and I don't want it. I want to see them do well on their own. I'm leaving - I don't want to win anything - I've already won in my head. I know my own value, you can't beat me."
There was no eviction in last night's show and ITV said no substitute would join the remaining contestants ITV said in a statement: "John Lydon has been fantastic entertainment on the show. We respect his decision to quit and hope we haven't seen the last of him."
Before leaving Lydon said he got to like the other contestants so much that he "would die for them", and they did appear to have warmed to the man once seen as a threat to the British establishment.
The former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond said of his leaving: "It's what an anarchist should do, not play the game and not play by the rules."
Although the producers have lost one of their biggest draws, the incident will maintain the programme's high profile. Much interest has also been generated by Jordanand her growing romance with Andre. But Jordan has now fallen out of favour with viewers, and the bookmaker William Hill has made Kerry McFadden, a former member of Atomic Kitten, and Lord Brocket, 13/8 joint favourites. The other contestants are Jennie Bond, 53, and Alex Best, 32.Reuse content