I’m a Celebrity fans threaten to boycott series over controversial contestant

ITV is being lambasted for ‘tone-deaf’ decision to sign controversial ex-politician up for 2023 series

Jacob Stolworthy
Wednesday 15 November 2023 16:45 GMT
I'm a Celebrity 2023 trailer

I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! fans are threatening to boycott the new series due to the inclusion of Nigel Farage.

Last week, it was “revealed” that the former UKIP and Brexit Party leader would be entering the jungle for the next instalment of the ITV reality series alongside food writer Grace Dent, retired boxer Tony Bellew and Britney Spears’s sister, Jamie Lynn Spears.

But it’s Farage’s involvement in the series, which launches on Sunday (18 November), that has left viewers enraged. Since he was officially confirmed as a contestant, many viewers have been expressing their outrage on social media.

Farage, who was spotted landing in Australia ahead of the reported appearance, recently said he was “seriously considering” the series after being offered “really quite substantial sums of money” to sign up. On his GB News show, he said producers have offered him the show several times in the past.

It’s been reported that Farage will make £1.5m from the appearance – the highest any person has ever been paid to appear. This trounces Noel Edmond’s £600,000, which he received in 2022.

Farage is known for espousing right-wing views on subjects ranging from immigration and the gender pay gap, and over the years, has been accused of inciting xenophobia.

In 2019, a person who went to school with Farage shared stories about the politician’s “dark” past, which they claimed included holding fascist views and singing antisemitic chants.

While Farage did not directly respond to the claims made by his former friend, he instead said: “To say that this is going over old ground is an understatement. The period during which I was at Dulwich was highly politically charged with the rise of Thatcherism to the Brixton riots just down the road. There were many people of that time who were attracted to extreme groups on both sides of the debate.”

Nigel Farage has reportedly received the highest ‘I’m a Celebrity’ sum ever

A colleague at the school previously said Farage “publicly professed racist and fascist views”, and would sing Hitler Youth songs in the local village.

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Farage denied the claims, stating in 2013: “I don’t know any Hitler youth songs, in English or German. Any accusation I was ever involved in far right politics is utterly untrue. Of course I said some ridiculous things, not necessarily racist things. It depends how you define it.”

One viewer called Farage’s casting “a cynical bid to boosts its ratings”, arguing that they should not be “giving publicity” to a figure who “has assisted in doing untold damage to this country”. Several petitions have also been launched in an attempt to get the “hateful” Farage removed from the show.

Comedian London Hughes wrote: “If I went on #ImACeleb and found out I was on the show with Nigel Farage, I’d leave and sue for racial negligence… but that’s just me. I’d say that I’m quite shocked that ITV is platforming a racist as a form of entertainment, but nothing really surprises me anymore.”

Broadcaster Danny Baker added: “Nigel Farage being put into the jungle by @ITV shows how insensitive, crass, tone deaf, idiot provocative, morally bankrupt a network they are.”

Former UKIP and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage

Others pointed out a discrepancy in the channel’s reaction to the discovery of offensive tweets sent by evicted Big Brother housemate Trish Balusa over the last 12 years.

One day after Balusa was eliminated from the reality series, these historic tweets resurfaced online, which led to ITV cancelling the housemate’s appearance on discussion show Late & Live.

“Bit rich of them to take the moral high ground now when they’re literally platforming Nigel Farage for the next three weeks,” one viewer wrote.

Balusa has apologised for the posts.

The Independent has contated Farage’s reps and ITV for comment.

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