Gareth Roberts Gareth Roberts

Why Nigel Farage failed on ‘I’m a Celebrity…’

Nigel Farage in the jungle (Credit: ITV/ YouTube)

The coronation of Sam Thompson, Scrappy Doo in human form, as King of the Jungle in this year’s I’m A Celebrity… was an inevitability. It was unthinkable that Tony Bellew – his still, stoic Scouse sparring partner – would not come second. And that Nigel Farage wouldn’t trail in third.

When Farage made it through the public votes, all the way up to the final, there was much amused speculation about him coming out on top. The ‘banter’ outcome would’ve seen Farage take the crown, just for the sheer devilment of it.

Yes, that would’ve been delicious, the ultimate wind-up of Farage’s many detractors. It was a pleasant daydream to imagine the horrified tweets declaring that the former Brexit party leader’s win was confirmation that the public are all swivel-eyed fascists and that ITV had blood on their hands for normalising a dangerous extremist. There would have been some corkers of the genre, no doubt. ‘The level of tantrums on here today persuaded me to vote even though I haven’t watched any of it,’ I saw someone say on X on Sunday. 

Farage was affable, certainly, but also rather dull

But Sam had this wrapped up. His friendship with Tony was delightful to watch; the hyperactive, naughty ‘child’ type and solid, centred ‘dad’ type that’s been the base template of comedy double acts for centuries. Sam’s irrepressible bounce is a delight because it reminds us of the far-off days when we too – yes, even us – bounced.

And there’s the key point, and the reason why Farage could never have won: we watch shows like I’m A Celebrity… to escape, to put the shouting and wrangling and angst of the rest of television with its lectures and chiding and goading, behind us.

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