From Strictly to I’m a Celebrity, it’s become a trend in the last 10 years for politicians such as Edwina Currie in 2014 and Stanley Johnson in 2017 to seek public redemption through their appearances on reality TV.
Last year, we had Matt Hancock who appeared on I’m a Celebrity and came third. Prior to that he’d lost his job as Health Secretary for breaking social distancing laws when he kissed his colleague. However, it was hardly the first time he’d come up against scandal.
On I’m a Celeb he was voted for six trials consecutively and went on to make £320,000, of which he donated £10,000 to charity. This year he went on to appear on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, once again making the top three and earning a further £45,000.
You might argue that Hancock made it so far on both shows purely because the British public loved seeing him go through all the rancid trials rather than liking him. This doesn’t mean he didn’t try to convince us though. The Standard reported that when asked about his leadership throughout the pandemic, Hancock said in response that he was managing a very difficult scenario in a professional sense and thought he had done a good job. He said he regretted the lack of leadership at the end.
However, a poll conducted on Lorraine showed that his reputation was improved by appearing on I’m a Celebrity, according to 42.8% of people.
This year’s love-to-hate figure is Nigel Farage, who is currently gracing screens. He claimed that he has been asked to appear on the show every year since 2016 and sees this as an opportunity to “connect with a younger generation.” In his introduction clip ahead of the shows premiere, Farage made the very bold claim of being: “A hero to some people and an absolute villain to millions,” further solidifying his current image.
According to a report in The Mail Online, Nigel Farage is being paid a whopping £1.5 million to appear on the show, making him the highest paid campmate in the series’ 21-year history. So far it seems like the British public are showing their disapproval with the show’s decision to feature another politician, as people have taken to the social platform X to compare the situation directly to Hancock from last year. It’s unclear if Farage will follow in his footsteps and receive the same improved reputation.
Stanley Johnson is another example of politicians using the show for redemption, as he placed 7th in the contest in 2017. During his time in the jungle he became close with reality TV star Georgia Toffolo and won the public over with his charming façade. Johnson later went on to star in Celebrity Hunted with Toffolo, further reforming his public image. Starring in these shows helped his own image and it can be argued that it helped his son, Boris Johnson, in his campaign for Prime Minister later.
Controversial figures have worked out that their redemption lies in the hands of the British public especially the younger generation and reality TV is one of the best and most effective ways to get there. It’s also a chance for the British public to get some revenge and as long as that’s facilitated by the shows wanting to feature them, then there will be a never ending cycle of “redemption” for our entertainment.
I’m a Celebrity will be on ITV every evening from 9pm until December 10.