On ITV’s Sunday night show, Adele was essentially a warm-up for Richard Madeley. The bestselling singer’s private concert at the London Palladium took place before the return of An Audience With Adele, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! For the 21st series of famous torturers with animal genitalia and various creepy reptiles.
The cult hero Madeley was the main attraction. They even delayed his arrival for an hour to this launch show, the grand processions. Maybe Adele had time to come back from the Palladium and adjust from her hotel suite.
The “broadcast legend” and the Telegraph agonizing uncle are dreamy for such formats: talkative, naive, and game for all. I’m A Celebrity has been trying to get him registered for years, as has BBC rival Strictly Come Dancing. Khakis and cork hats were clearly more attractive than sequins and Spanx. Or maybe ITV’s price was just higher.
Many of us have suspended international travel plans over the past two years and decided on stays instead. ITV reality is no exception to the daredevil. For the second ongoing series, the pesky epidemic meant that the production had replaced the steamy Australian jungle with a drafty castle in Conwy.
The displacement worked surprisingly well last time and didn’t affect the ratings, which averaged an average of 11 feet. The lack of historic Gwrych Castle in tropical temperatures (no bikini-clad waterfall showers here) made up for in atmosphere – not to mention the possibility of seeing the legendary headless ghost of Gothic madness. Showcasing the Welsh landscape and boosting the local economy also felt right during a difficult year.
We started with the traditional meet and greet as the more famous faces – Madeley, Saturday singer Frankie Bridge, Paralympian Kadeena Cox, retired French football player David Ginola, BBC Breakfast’s Louise Minchin and choreographer Dame Arlene Phillips – were introduced to their less recognizable faces. camp mates. Snoochie Shy, Danny Miller, Matty Lee or Naughty Boy, anyone? No, me too.
It turns out that Miller is a geeky Emmerdale player who is established as the person punters love to win the most. He has described himself as the “worst gipper in the world” and during the helicopter ride I was “three times nauseous” at his first ordeal: walking on board over a dizzying 213ft quarry.
Radio 1Xtra DJ Snoochie Shy (probably not his real name unless he has particularly abusive parents) screamed so loudly when his track was shaken that it could probably be heard from across the Shropshire border. Next up was a mission called “Hell Holes,” which was less telegenic as it found the celebrities lying facedown on the forest floor.
Third and last, in an overly elaborate opening challenge – all the fuss was just to get into the castle – came the “Towers of Terror”, a three-tiered structure with padlocked doors. Access to the keys, naturally covered in cockroaches, crickets, maggots and mealworms.
Viewers had voted for Madeley and Bridge to go head-to-head in this trial. Bridge was victorious (putting out how the youngsters kept beating the golden elders), meaning his team gained access to the castle’s base camp. Madeley and his losers have been deported to the obviously less hospitable “Castle Clink” and will be there on basic rations.
Pop producer Naughty Boy (NB: he’s not the Messiah) lived up to his name by smuggling spices into his sock to add flavor to his campmates’ rice and beans. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of telling the manufacturers who had duly confiscated the contraband. He wasn’t exactly a criminal mastermind, but he was among the most promising participants, along with the three Miss Madeley, Minchin, and Miller. The latter was chosen by the public to tackle the “Dreaded Diner,” the first eating mission on Monday night. Expect more “whipping”.
At 78, former Strictly Come Dancing judge Phillips is the show’s oldest contestant ever. His appearance can be seen as being two fingers close to the BBC, which landed him in an age discrimination scandal 12 years ago. “I can’t live with dirt and I’m afraid of everything,” Phillips said. Good luck amidst the castle chaos. It’s whined a lot and may not last long.
Hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly reminded us why they are the best at this type of entertainment. Stupid, sassy and immediately formed a warm relationship with their campmate. They also dealt with a troublesome fly (there’s live TV for you) and even made a current joke about newly sacked Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Speaking of football, the cheeky Geordie chipmunks might have a hand in Ginola’s squad, who plays for beloved Newcastle United. The Gallic silver fox was charismatic and extremely competitive. He said he would happily eat snails and frogs like a true Frenchman. This might work.
Admittedly, I’m A Celeb: Pandemic Edition’s less exotic locations and fluffy outfits gave it the feel of a drizzly trip to geography. However, there is a reason why TV has become one of the most enduring reality formats. Overwhelming C-listers have become a reliably fun way to spend dark autumn evenings as they roll from November to December.
Madeley’s involvement could have hooked me for another year. For some time now, he’s been transforming into the real-life Alan Partridge. His wife, Judy, or GMB co-host Susanna Reid, has the potential to complete Partridge over the next three weeks without someone to roll their eyes at his bullshit or rein in his more eccentric tendencies. The back of the net. It promises a must-see cruise.