Surviving life in the jungle camp: An exclusive guide

As 'I'm a Celebrity...' returns to TV tonight, IoS columnist and ex-contestant Dom Joly offers the latest batch some advice

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The Independent Online

So I'm a Celebrity – Get Me Out of Here! is back. I'm currently in the wilds of northern California so I won't be tuning in just yet, but I thought I'd give the new campers some advice.

On first meeting your fellow camp-mates, there will be several whom you do not recognise. Do not give this away as this will greatly offend. Simply shake their hand and say something like "I'm a huge fan of your... stuff". They will soon shoot their mouth off about what it is they do and you can fill in the blanks.

Keep quiet for a while and assess your situation. I wasn't very good at this and nearly got booted out first. Use this time to see who will become the camp cook, and who are the "Alphas". Offer to assist the camp cook, as this will make them your ally and you can pinch some scraps of food. Do not make enemies of Alphas as they will get their little gang to start bitching about you and paranoia is high in there.

If you are going to smuggle something in, don't blow it by sharing with other contestants. Nice as this might be, this is when you get caught.

The main enemy is boredom. Try to keep yourself busy. Shaun Ryder suggested that we all try to nick stuff off the production crew and this was a fabulous idea. We'd spend hours crawling around trying to nick pointless things like gaffer tape. We had no need for these things but it gave us a purpose and a little feeling of control over our surroundings.

There is nowhere in camp where you are not being filmed. Do not make the Nigel Havers mistake of presuming that the shower is off-limits unless you are wearing a bikini and are called Myleene Klass. They will show your bottom and more to the UK public.

Try to keep your phobias and fears under wraps. The production team members are sadists; some have come straight from working in Guantanamo Bay and they thrive on your discomfort. If you have a pathological fear of spiders, pretend you love them; otherwise you will soon have hundreds of them crawling all over you.

Go to the Bush Telegraph in the middle of the night. Often you get a lone producer on emergency duty and you can get more out of them than the normal "voices". News from home – anything from sports results to current affairs – is like gold dust and makes you a valuable commodity in camp conversation for a while.

Do not try to escape the camp. There are some quite creepy New Zealand SAS members hidden all around the site and they have a habit of stepping out in front of you suddenly from nowhere. They will not talk to you however hard you might try.

Bedding wise, you have a choice of bunk or hammock. I chose a hammock because I thought that fewer "things" would crawl all over me. It made little difference as "things" tend to fall on you from above, so take the bunk as it's much more comfy.

If there is still the lone sofa up on a platform, sit there and stare into one of the rocks containing cameramen. One in particular often forgets to put up his camouflage window and you can watch him doing peculiar things before he notices and shuts it off.

Do not spend prolonged periods of time staring at the sky. Not only is this very boring telly but it doesn't pay to think too much in there as it can really start to do your head in. Obviously, if you are from The Only Way is Essex, don't worry about this as "thinking" is not really your bag.

If there is another karaoke challenge, go for a Pet Shop Boys song. They are almost always able to be carried off by simply reciting the lyrics in a monotone manner and the producers will ignore you in favour of someone who actually tries to sing.

When you are eventually booted out, do not be freaked out by all the people in the hotel who appear to know you very well. These people have been having a one-way relationship with you from behind their cameras for three weeks and they often forget that you were almost totally unaware of their existence.

Lastly, you are not on a "journey". This is not an "incredible moment" in your life. You are on a very well-made TV roller coaster. Whatever you think when you get out, you will forget almost everything within a month and return to your usual, spoilt, egotistical self. Enjoy.

'Keep your clothes on if you're over 40'

Janet Street-Porter, our irrepressible editor-at-large, looks back at her time on the show in 2004...

Best moment

Winning nine stars for my first trial, in spite of receiving several nasty snake bites. Viewers didn't vote for me to do more trials. They generally pick on weepers.

Worst moment

Listening to members of the camp waffle utter drivel 24/7. Paul Burrell rhapsodising about Diana and the royal corgis and how the Queen was "really normal". Natalie Appleton continually sobbing that the trees could "kill" her.

Friends for life?

Certainly not. I failed to recognise Sophie Anderton a week later. What did I learn: new levels of tolerance; campfire cooking with no condiments; how to catch an eel using my knickers. I skinned and cooked the little bugger – no one would eat it except me.

Top tips for new campers

Don't admit any phobias beforehand – they'll be exploited. Don't offer to cook – you'll be in charge of portion control. The cameras are never off – always wear your undies for nocturnal toilet trips. Keep all your clothes on to wash if you're over 40. Don't whisper anything you'll regret later – there are microphones everywhere.

Biggest worry

Freddie Starr will try everyone's patience to the max. I had to endure Brian Harvey from E17 and Freddie is far more "unpredictable". Watch out for bolshie new arrivals; will they include Charlotte Church now that Sinitta allegedly cried off at the last minute?