He entered the “I’m a Celebrity” jungle in Australia to questions from the other participants and headlines critical of his participation in the UK. But attitudes about Matt Hancock appear to be shifting after less than a week.
A few days in the I’m A Celebrity jungle are almost as long as a week in politics.
The most divisive and despised contestant in the show’s 22-season history, former health secretary Matt Hancock, arrived at the Australian camp less than seven days ago. However, after bravely consuming a camel’s penis, a sheep’s vagina, and a fish eye, as well as facing a coffin full of snakes, he is now the third favorite to win, according to several bookmakers.
Prior to joining the, I’m A Celebrity camp as a latecomer, the MP, who is still representing the residents of West Suffolk, was effectively expelled from the Conservative Party and forced to run as an independent until he was reinstated for his decision to appear on reality TV after violating the government’s own lockdown regulations.
Unsurprisingly, several of his campmates gave him a cold reception.
Radio host Chris Moyles questioned why Mr. Hancock wasn’t at work; comedian Babatunde Aleshe said it was “hard” to push views aside “because of the many people whose lives have been affected.” Singer Boy George said he would feel guilty “sitting here like I’m having fun with him” because he wasn’t allowed to visit his mother in the hospital during the pandemic, even when he, “thought she was going to die.”
Nobody was surprised when Mr. Hancock, 44, received the public vote to participate in each and every revolting and terrifying bushtucker trial from the moment he arrived at the camp.
He has handled every challenge Ant and Dec have thrown at him, from the nauseating eating task to the “tentacles of terror” and “house of horrors,” with a robotic, unfussy functionality that has earned him plenty of stars to feed his campmates.
It appears he has applied the same keep-calm-and-ignore-it-until-it’s-over approach in the jungle after years of learning how to sidestep political topics he didn’t like, a strategy he explicitly revealed to his campmates and dubbed as the “pivot.”
Then, for the first time since he arrived at the camp, fans let him off the following one in Monday night’s program. Despite the fact that the “angel of agony” requires three campmates, Mr. Hancock will not be one of them. It appears that the public’s desire to watch terrified campmates screaming their way through critter-filled tunnels while winning no stars is beginning to triumph over any dislike for, or thirst to humiliate, a politician who broke the rules.
The chances of the MP winning the competition have been drastically reduced by bookmakers including William Hill and Betfair. Betfair currently lists him as the third favorite at 6/1, behind rugby player Mike Tindall and Lioness Jill Scott.
Most of his fellow campers are likewise warming up. Despite a smoldering conflict, there haven’t been any outright fights… yet. In the episode that aired Monday night, Moyles claimed to have been able to tell Matt Hancock the politician from Matt, his campmate in the jungle.
This is how I see it, said Moyles. “Matt Hancock is present. And God bless our campmate Matt, who works tirelessly every day to overcome obstacles and bring food back to the camp.” He said, “I may have spoken my opinion about Matt Hancock earlier, but in here, the star-winning Matt, he’s doing all well,” with a little grimace to indicate reluctance but almost affection.
It makes sense that Mr. Hancock will likely stay on the show for a decent amount of time, if not until the final episode, as I’m A Celeb voting entails viewers getting in touch to keep in their favorite (or most entertaining or controversial) campmate, rather than voting out their least favorite.
Mr. Hancock, who served as the health secretary and was involved in many of the government’s decisions during the pandemic, violated the coronavirus social distancing rules by having an affair with an aide named Gina Coladangelo in his ministerial office. The affair was caught on camera “grabbing booty, bruv,” as Aleshe put it.
When questioned by his fellow campers, he has apologized, acknowledged his sins, and told them he hopes people would see the “true” him and that he is looking for “forgiveness.”
The now-girlfriend Ms. Coladangelo might be waiting for him at the end of the rickety wooden bridge that all I’m A Celeb contestants cross to depart the show, and the cameras may be waiting there even more intently than normal to capture the moment they kiss.
But is Matt Hancock, King of the Jungle, actually in that picture? Will it be Matt Hancock, the former health secretary who erred and really ought to have resisted the allure of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, or someone else?
Three weeks have passed since the first campmates entered the jungle, which is a very long time in politics and an even longer time in reality television. The show is anticipated to end around November 27.