If, as is rumoured, the Queen is a fan of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! the opening episode of the fourth series of ITV's hit reality show will have offered a very regal satisfaction - the sight of the former Royal Butler, Paul Burrell, being pushed screaming out of a plane at 8,000 feet. You can't have everything, of course, even if you are the Queen. He was attached to a parachute and survived the drop to join nine other contestents in the Queensland rainforest. The monarch needn't give up hope yet though - "There's a lot of snakes out there and they're not all in the jungle," noted Burrell's wife.
They started hissing even before they left the luxury hotel from which they were flown to camp where they will spend the next 16 days, subject to the whims of the British public, the impulses of venomous creatures and their own rising panic.
Burrell had been elected without contest to the post of camp whipping-boy and Janet Street-Porter - The Independent on Sunday's editor-at-large - made an early bid to have first go with the whip. Widely tipped as the most promising catalyst in the camp, Street-Porter lived up to her reputation by provoking strong reactions amongst her fellow internees, who included the model Sophie Anderton, the comic Joe Pasquale and the American actor Antonio Vargas. "Natalie, can it!" Street-Porter snapped as they all made their way to camp, exasperated beyond endurance by the high-pitched whine emanating from the singer Natalie Appleton - far and away the leading candidate for the earliest nervous breakdown. "Oh my God! I touched a tree!" shrieked the singer on the trek in, revealing an unpromising phobia given the location.
Brian Harvey, former member of East 17, arrived late in camp - the death of his grandmother having raised a question mark over his participation. He was greeted sympathetically by Street-Porter: "Oh no ... not another bloody smoker!" she snarled - what little diplomacy she possesses, eroded by a night of listening to Appleton whimpering.
Before the torment turned interactive, the first contestent to endure the Bushtucker Trial, an ordeal by arthropod, was Fran Cosgrove, a nightclub owner. With its famous sympathy for the underdog and knowing that Appleton is terrified of heights. the British public immediately elected her to perform tonight's challenge - crossing a wire rope suspended 200 feet above the jungle floor.
There's still a long way to go, though - and a lot of as-yet untested ways of torturing those whose status we may feel exceeds their deserts. Surely Buckingham Palace has a speed-dial system - and if not, isn't this precisely the kind of thing that a good butler should be able to sort out?Reuse content