I’m a Celebrity 2021 review: It’s going to be a long three weeks

Cheeky banter! Oversharing! Bodily fluids! The ITV survival show is certainly back – and it’s boring

Isobel Lewis
Monday 22 November 2021 09:29
Frankie Bridge and Richard Madeley face Turrets of Terror on I'm A Celebrity

Nearly 20 years in, we know what to expect from the opening episode of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! Ant and Dec will throw around some cheeky banter, the contestants will pretend they recognise each other and bodily functions will be discussed with abandon. Sunday night’s series opener certainly delivers, and there’s a bonus: DJ Naughty Boy lives up to his name and sneaks in a baggie of contraband herbs and spices in his sock. We’re back, baby!

Ant and Dec clearly have no intention of mixing up the formula. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether the audience finds their jokes funny or not (for what it’s worth, they’re mostly pretty good), because the camera crew will loudly guffaw anyway as the pair giggle like schoolboys in the back of a year nine sex ed class. The episode’s best moments come when they fangirl over Newcastle United legend David Ginola, who’s being set up as the unexpected comic relief of the series. Frankly, you have to admire the boldness of a man proudly declaring that the producers should “bring me any anus”. Or question his sanity, perhaps.

All the contestants rattle off similar talking points – that they’re scared of practically every single challenge but are excited to show a new side of themselves to the public (who, let’s be real, probably hadn’t heard of them in the first place). The oversharing continues, with DJ Snoochie Shy admitting that her biggest fear is “bugs going up my vagina”, setting the tone nicely for the rest of the series.

Episode one starts with a twist: the contestants are split into pairs and told to compete against each other rather than together. Challenge number one involves a high walk, where the celebrities must test their reaction times at about 230 feet. It probably is terrifying to do, but it’s just not very entertaining to watch. And the GoPros on the contestants’ heads make the whole thing feel more wholesome TikTok trainspotter than tense Squid Game showdown.

Red team Louise Minchin and Snoochie come out on top, wisely picking athletes Kadeena Cox and Matty Lee to represent them in the next challenge. Their logic pays off and the pair are also victorious. Arlene Phillips’s warning that the red team don’t have a “cha-cha-chance” with her around sadly does not translate to anything other than shudder-inducing cringe.

To cut a long story short (you’re welcome), the red team triumph and get to spend the night in Gwrych Castle with some hot grub, while the yellows survive on basic rations in Castle Clink, a place you’d think couldn’t get any bleaker until Danny Miller breaks the cold shower within approximately 30 seconds. For the contestants and those watching at home, it’s going to be a long three weeks.

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