I’M A Celebrity is back to the excitement of a rapidly dwindling number of viewers. It’s hard to believe but this kind of crap used to make headlines:
I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here
In the early years of the millennium even discerning TV viewers were gripped by the surreal mix of celebs and sadistic challenges like eating a pig’s uterus. The unexpected Peter Andre-Jordan romance pushed Iraq off front pages. Today, nobody would look up from their ready meal if Lenny Henry was being inserted into a crocodile’s anus.
EastEnders in the 80s
Got non-stop press coverage as if Dirty Den and Angie were real people, suggesting the viewers were insane. Capitalising on social issues like AIDS and domestic violence helped, but those happy times have gone and now it’s only realistic if your family all have dark secrets and there’s a local murder every Christmas without fail.
Derren Brown: Mind Control
Caused genuine consternation that Derren might actually be controlling people’s minds and turning them into assassins. It actually employed the complex psychological phenomenon known as ‘Doing what you’re told on TV because you don’t actually believe they’ll make you kill someone’.
Who didn’t love real crime that could happen to you? ‘Don’t have nightmares,’ Nick Ross would say hypocritically after a reconstruction of a family horrifically tortured by burglars while getting ready for bed after watching Crimewatch UK.
Frequently made it into the press with reports on innocent Brits being dismembered by Spanish holiday resort lifts, and of course Skoal Bandits. But also made headlines with inane pranks and smutty vegetables that appeared to have tiny cocks or tits. They were happier times.
For an insane few years every series was news, from the contestants’ clever tactics to that one who stuck a bottle up her fanny. The excessive coverage continued long after it became apparent they were dead-eyed attention-seekers who’d do anything to be famous, a glittering crown already claimed by Rebecca Loos for wanking off a pig on Channel 5.