From Boy George to Matt Hancock, I’m a Celebrity’s 2022 lineup truly tops off a year of chaos and confusion

The roster of stars entering the jungle this year has been confirmed, with a couple of unusual bombshells thrown in for good measure. Sean O’Grady gives his analysis

Sunday 06 November 2022 07:11 GMT
<p>Former health secretary Hancock will be taking on Bushtucker Trials </p>

Former health secretary Hancock will be taking on Bushtucker Trials

In a year of chaos and confusion, another surprise – the 2022 I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! cast are actually famous. Not only can I both recognise and name Boy George, Mike Tindall, Chris Moyles and – in the name of Covid! – Matt Hancock, but I actually know a bit about their backstories, and probably too much in the case of Hancock. Obviously, the former health secretary and privy councillor seized this opportunity like it was a fanciable spad, and I’m not that surprised.

I met him once, many years ago. He was a bag-carrier for the then chancellor, George Osborne, and he struck me as being superficially friendly and likeable, but somehow ultimately untrustworthy. So it has indeed proved, for his country, his party and his family. Maybe, soon, for his new friends in Australia, too. Harsh, but, you know the law of the jungle.

I’m also old enough to have grown up with Boy George (not literally, obviously). The Culture Club singer is said to be receiving the biggest amount of money in the ITV show’s 20-year history. In April, he appeared on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and, after performing his song “Karma Chameleon”, he was asked by the hosts what the hit means to him. He replied: “It means I’ll never have to say, ‘I’m a celebrity... get me out of here,’” His words aren’t the only thing he’ll be eating in the jungle.

I get a half-mark each for recognising but not knowing the names of the Lioness Jill Scott, and actor Sue Cleaver (who plays Eileen Grimshaw in Coronation Street). I’d also be at a loss to pick out Olivia Attwood and Babatunde Aleshe, though here’s hoping they’re brilliant company and brave, the winning qualities of any king or queen of the show.

The rest are even more of a mystery and will probably stay that way even if I’m required to review any episodes of this classic artefact of contemporary civilisation. I would for the moment merely observe that the celebrity Antiques Roadshow that ITV seems to be offering up this year might well be a signal that the producers are giving up on the kids, and refocusing their “flagship” evening entertainment package on a more reliable and mature demographic.

Many will no doubt be looking forward to the love rats Seann Walsh and Hancock swapping their sleazy tips. And I suspect Owen Warner (Romeo Nightingale off Hollyoaks), Scarlette Douglas (A Place in the Sun) and Charlene White (Loose Women) will be discussing media intrusion without a trace of irony. And so on.

Especially with the delicious prospect of Hancock dining on writhing grubs, this year’s I’m a Celebrity certainly presents a more promising line-up than any we’ve seen since the heyday of those class veteran acts Tony Blackburn, Christopher Biggins and Jennie Bond – but it’s still, well, a load of old kangaroo cock.

‘I’m a Celebrity’ begins on ITV at 9pm on Sunday 6 November.

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