I'm A Celebrity 2018 final review: Tedious and unbearably predictable – Harry Redknapp makes for a fitting winner

Holly Willoughby and Dec Donnelly make for utterly bland presenters

Sean O'Grady
Sunday 09 December 2018 23:57
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Harry Redknapp is crowned King of the Jungle in I'm A Celebrity 2018 final

Given how tediously, grindingly, unbearably predictable the whole proceedings have been, it was entirely fitting that I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out Here should be won by Harry Redknapp.

When he was a manager of top teams such as West Ham and Portsmouth, old Harry, presumably, watched the competition meticulously live and on video, and planned each game obsessively.

But he’d never even watched I’m a Celeb before he turned up in the jungle (i.e. television set) and took each challenge as it came, in his stride and with the insouciance he learned to develop when one of his teams took yet another thrashing from Chelsea or Man U (before they were rubbish).

That to my mind just proves that you need no more to win I’m a Celeb than the instinctive common sense knowledge that nothing that happens there is truly dangerous or frightening, just grisly.

After all, a celebrity leaving in a body bag wouldn’t be good news for the sponsors or ITV, and the medical advisors actually rule out certain contestants from tasks for fear of them having a stroke on air or something. Anne Hegerty, from The Chase, was spared some.

Emily Atack on 'I'm a Celebrity'

Mind you, I will concede that being shoved in a hole and covered in rats was quite tough on Redknapp, but maybe not much worse than handling one of many difficult press conferences at Loftus Road after Queens Park Rangers never quite really got their defensive tactics together.

I wasn’t surprised that John Barrowman OBE (Obscenely Big Ego) was lobbed out first. He was so histrionic and exaggerated when doing the bush tucker trial I thought I was watching a Tex Avery cartoon. He was plainly overacting. Noshing on a live bull penis, yes, that might be traumatic (for all concerned), though some people might actually pay to do it come to think of it. But when it’s limp and lifeless, well not too bad surely?

Barrowman OBE didn’t even wretch when he ate a dead eater spider and “the whole web ass exploded in my mouth”. It’s all been done before though and everyone from Uri Geller to Janet Street-Porter to George Takei has eaten genitals and had unspeakable creatures crawl all over them, and the jokes are thinner than Noel Edmond’s skin by now.

Runner-up was actor Emily Atack, who has “found some new love and respect for myself”. True enough, and shared by the chunky Giant Burrowing Cockroach last seen heading down her bum crack. Wonder how far he’s got by now? His very own jungle trial I suppose – they like to make their dens about 3ft in. Maybe he’ll turn up on Celebrity Master Chef. He’d like that.

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I digress. The problem with I’m a Celeb is that the whole thing is so tame. Before he absconded from the show a few years ago Malcolm McLaren said that the programme’s doc told him the trials were so safe he’d let his kids do them.

More than that though is the utterly bland presentation – Holly Willoughby and Dec being bywords for dull. Who said they’re any good? All they do is make puerile gags about farts and stealing hotel pillows, which only adds to that distinctive jungle tedium. In the right hands – Ricky Gervais, say, or Charlie Brooker – all the kangaroo cock and funny stuff could be deployed to devastating and offensive comic effect. But they aren’t.

I wish I’d been able to follow the advice that Emily Atack gave to the effect that her family back home will use any old excuse to get hammered on a Sunday.

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