Matt Hancock looks set for a gruelling few weeks in I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! as fans are plotting for him to do all the Bushtucker Trials.
The former Health Secretary, 44, who quit after breaking his own lockdown rules by having an affair with long-time aide Gina Coladangelo, will become the 12th celebrity heading to the Australian jungle.
After the announcement, Chief Whip Simon Hart announced he had removed the whip from Matt – the same fate that befell fellow Tory MP Nadine Dorries when she went on the ITV show in 2012.
Gruelling: Matt Hancock looks set for a gruelling few weeks in I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! as fans are plotting for him to do all the Bushtucker Trials (pictured arriving in Australia)
Matt is likely to find himself having to chow down on all sorts of creepy crawlies as many fans are eager to see him do as many Bushtucker Trials as possible.
Betfair have released odds at 2/1 for the politician to do more trials than Naughty Boy who holds the record with seven from the 2021 series.
Several fans of the ITV reality series took to Twitter to speculate on how the voting public will react when Matt lands in the jungle.
One user said: ‘Matt Hancock will do Every Single bushtucker trial for sure.’
Show: The former Health Secretary, 44, who quit after breaking his own lockdown rules by having an affair with long-time aide Gina Coladangelo , will become the 12th celebrity heading to the Australian jungle
Another added: ‘Matt Hancock is going to get more Bushtucker Trials than Gillian McKeith and Natalie Appleton combined. Smart move ITV.
Another said: ‘Matt Hancock is going to face every Bushtucker trial, isn’t he….?
One viewer said: ‘I’ve never voted for a game show. This year, my finger will be firmly pressed on redial for Matt Hancock to do every single Bushtucker Trail.’
Matt will be a late addition to the jungle along with comedian Seann Walsh.
The politician has defended his shock decision to go on the show – insisting that by flying more than 10,000 miles from his West Suffolk constituency to appear in the Australian-based show he will ‘go to where the people are’ and ‘promote his dyslexia campaign’.
Writing in The Sun, the former Cabinet minister said: ‘While there will undoubtedly be those who think I shouldn’t go, I think it’s a great opportunity to talk directly to people who aren’t always interested in politics, even if they care very much about how our country’s run.
‘It’s our job as politicians to go to where the people are – not to sit in ivory towers in Westminster.
Challenge: Matt is likely to find himself having to chow down on all sorts of creepy crawlies as many fans are eager to see him do as many Bushtucker Trials as possible (this year’s cast pictured)
‘There are many ways to do the job of being an MP. Whether I’m in camp for one day or three weeks, there are very few places people will be able to see a politician as they really are.
‘So, the truth is, I haven’t lost my marbles or had one too many pina coladas. It’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to. I was elected by the people, and it’s important to engage with voters, especially younger voters, no matter where they are, and show the human side of politicians.’
The news of his participation drew a rapid rebuke from Number 10, with Rishi Sunak’s spokesman saying the Prime Minister believes MPs should be ‘working hard for their constituents’ at a ‘challenging time for the country’.
Mr Sunak is ‘unlikely’ to watch Mr Hancock in action, the spokesman added.
PR expert Mark Borkowski estimated Matt could have been paid a £350,000 appearance fee. He told MailOnline: ‘They paid Noel Edmonds £500,000 and that was a top booking – either Hancock is desperate for the visibility or the money… if it’s the money I’d expect £350,000 – he should be very careful what he wishes for.’
Matt will stay as MP for West Suffolk but serve as an independent. While he will be able to keep his party membership, he will not be able to stand for election as a Conservative party candidate, vote in party contests or stand for committee chairman posts.
A source close to the MP said he would donate some of the appearance fee to St Nicholas Hospice in Suffolk, but would not say how much.
Reaction: Several fans of the ITV reality series took to Twitter to speculate on how the voting public will react when Matt lands in the jungle
A political ally said he had accepted he was unlikely to become a minister again and wanted to connect with ‘younger generations’.
‘Politicians like Matt must go to where the people are – particularly those who are politically disengaged,’ they said.
‘Matt’s of the view that we must embrace popular culture. Rather than looking down on reality TV, we should see it for what it is – a powerful tool to get our message heard by younger generations.’
The MP first turned down the opportunity to appear on the show because of ‘instability’ the government was facing at the time, according to the source.
However, he now believes the administration is ‘stable’ and views his stint on the show as an ‘amazing opportunity’ to talk about issues he really cares about, they claimed.
‘When he was first approached to take part – while he was flattered and naturally curious – it didn’t take him too long to turn the opportunity down because of the instability Government was facing at the time,’ the ally said.
‘Now, though, the Government is stable. Rishi Sunak has made a great start and the whole of the Conservative Party is united behind him.
Uh Oh: Betfair have released odds at 2/1 for the politician to do more trials than Naughty Boy who holds the record with seven from the 2021 series
‘Rishi has a big majority, so he can get his agenda through Parliament. Matt’s talked to the whips, in the same way any MP would when going on a foreign visit, which happens all the time.
‘As I say, Matt doesn’t expect to serve in Government again, but he can support Rishi and the Government in different ways.
‘This is an amazing opportunity to engage with the public and talk about issues he really cares about – including his dyslexia campaign.’
The ally said producers of the show have agreed Matt can communicate with them if there is an urgent constituency matter.
But former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe told Sky News it was wrong for a serving MP to be away ‘for weeks on end’ and asked what would happen ‘if there’s an emergency’.
Oh dear: Matt – pictured with Ms Coladangelo – will stay as MP for West Suffolk but serve as an independent. While he will be able to keep his party membership, he will not be able to stand for election as a Conservative candidate
Hilarious: One friend of Matt’s estranged wife Martha (who he’s pictured with) was searing in their condemnation of the father of three, branding him a ‘total halfwit who’s making some unwise career moves’
Andy Drummond, deputy chairman of West Suffolk Conservative Association, said he was looking forward to seeing Matt ‘eating a kangaroo’s penis’ on the show – a reference to the notorious bushtucker trials in which contestants compete in a series of gruesome challenges to win stars. ‘Quote me, you can quote me on that,’ he added.
This year I’m A Celebrity will also make a much-anticipated return to Australia after being forced to relocate to Wales for two years due to the Covid pandemic.
Once again, Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly will be hosting the series, and have already been spotted arriving on the Gold Coast to commence filming.
Voting is now open for viewers to choose who they want to become Jungle VIPs (Very Isolated People), and the lucky few will spend their first night stranded on an island and face the first trial of the series.
Voting is free via the I’m A Celebrity app, and closes on November 1 at 9pm.
I’M A CELEBRITY 2022: THE FULL LINEUP
CLAIM TO FAME: Legendary pop star
PHOBIAS: Being scared
MISSING ANY BIG OCCASIONS? No, I am going straight into the jungle from playing at various festivals and gigs
ROLE IN THE CAMP: In-house dietician reassuring everyone that they will be ok on the jungle diet. And entertainer – I will sing!
BEST ATTRIBUTE: I am a very positive person and I don’t bear any grudges
DREAM CAMPMATE: It would be funny if my ex, Jon Moss, comes on the programme -but I don’t think that will happen!
CLAIM TO FAME: Radio DJ
PHOBIAS: I am petrified of heights. I ended up carrying the bags when we took my girlfriend’s niece once to Go Ape as I am so petrified!
MISSING ANY BIG OCCASIONS? A friend’s birthday, a wedding, and Leeds United matches
ROLE IN THE CAMP: Entertainer. Hopefully I can help shorten everyone’s boredom.
BEST ATTRIBUTE: Hiding food! I am going to fly out early and sneak into the jungle and hide pot noodles everywhere, then I will be everyone’s best friend!
DREAM CAMPMATE: Ant and Dec…let’s see how they cope for 24 hours!
CLAIM TO FAME: Playing Eileen Grimshaw in Coronation Street
PHOBIAS: Don’t be ridiculous! I am not going to admit to what I fear most!
MISSING ANY BIG OCCASIONS? Coronation Street and we are expecting another grandchild any day, so hopefully it will arrive before I fly out to Australia.
ROLE IN THE CAMP: I will be more of a mum – that is where I will naturally fit.
BEST ATTRIBUTE: I can cook and I am a good listener, so hopefully I will be a friendly ear for everyone.
DREAM CAMPMATE: Good Morning Britain’s Richard Arnold. He is my TV husband and it would be lovely to have an ally in camp!
CLAIM TO FAME: Presenter of A Place In The Sun
PHOBIAS: Spiders. There is no point in lying about it! I’ve got an irrational fear about them
MISSING ANY BIG OCCASIONS? Just a holiday which I can postpone
ROLE IN THE CAMP: Mum, cook and morale booster. I always like to look at the positive side in life
BEST ATTRIBUTE: I can cook and I will be good at making sure everything is tidy in camp
DREAM CAMPMATE: Mo Gilligan. He is hilarious and I totally fancy him!
CLAIM TO FAME: Comedian
PHOBIAS: I am scared of absolutely everything. Snakes, rats – I am fearful of them all and I am dreading the trials
MISSING ANY BIG OCCASIONS? I was going on tour but we’ve postponed it now until next year
ROLE IN THE CAMP: Tension breaker. If I can break tension anywhere it starts up in the camp, then I will do that. We don’t need to be bickering as it will be a first-time experience for everyone
BEST ATTRIBUTE: Hopefully I will bring some humour to the camp
DREAM CAMPMATE: I am a big Arsenal fan and so any ex-Arsenal player would be great. I am looking forward to chatting to Ant & Dec about football
CLAIM TO FAME: Rugby Union player and married to Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Tindall
PHOBIAS: I haven’t admitted to having any phobias but in a weird way, I am looking forward to taking part in the trials!
MISSING ANY BIG OCCASIONS? My podcast series and the rugby Internationals this autumn
ROLE IN THE CAMP: Morning motivator. I would like to see everyone get on well and us all have a great experience
BEST ATTRIBUTE: I am a positive person
DREAM CAMPMATE: Samuel L Jackson would be cool. He has lived the life!
CLAIM TO FAME: Playing Romeo Nightingale in Hollyoaks
MISSING ANY BIG OCCASIONS? I am a big fan of football so I will miss watching the start of the World Cup
ROLE IN THE CAMP: Entertainer and games coordinator
BEST ATTRIBUTE: It is definitely not my cooking skills or brains!
DREAM CAMPMATE: Any of the Leicester City starting 11!
CLAIM TO FAME: ITV newsreader and Loose Women anchor
PHOBIAS: I am not sure what my fear factor will be because I’ve never had rodents, spiders and snakes crawling all over me!
MISSING ANY BIG OCCASIONS? My children’s annual school ball which I am gutted about
ROLE IN THE CAMP: Mum and cook. I don’t mind falling into that position
BEST ATTRIBUTE: I like to listen and talk. I love learning about people and I have a natural curiosity for people
DREAM CAMPMATE: Colin Murray and Richard Osman
CLAIM TO FAME: Retired England Lioness
PHOBIAS: I don’t like rats and the thought of being underground fills me with fear!
MISSING ANY BIG OCCASIONS? The Men’s World Cup. I am going to find it weird not being able to know how the men are getting on in the tournament. Hopefully they will still be in the tournament when I come out of the jungle
ROLE IN THE CAMP: Helping hand. I like to help people if they aren’t having a good day
BEST ATTRIBUTE: Hard worker. I will always find a way to add value. I am also very honest
DREAM CAMPMATE: Another sports person would be great as it would be someone to bounce ideas off.
CLAIM TO FAME: Love Island star
PHOBIAS: I hate the dark so I’m keen to avoid any challenges in the darkness
MISSING ANY BIG OCCASIONS? No, had the show been on air any later, I could have missed my sister’s wedding
ROLE IN THE CAMP: Clown. I was always the class clown at school and I love having a laugh
BEST ATTRIBUTE: I don’t take myself seriously and I have got a good sense of humour
DREAM CAMPMATE: A pop legend like Dolly Parton who has amazing stories to tell