1. Joe Swash. A worthy winner? Perhaps. He was charismatic, chirpy, and occasionally strident, and provided the best comic moment when he pushed the corpulent Van Day over in Celebrity Cyclone for a laugh. All traits that you indelibly find in a winner of I’m A Celebrity, but bizarrely those which are often missing from genuine celebrities. An ad man’s dream.
2. Martina Navratilova. While viewers have been accused of racism in reality TV show voting (although this is often a hook to hang voters’ puerile bleating if their favourite doesn’t get through; file alongside “I couldn’t get through”, “I heard the answer message for X not Y”, “I’m boycotting the show because my favourite is out”, and “the judges have a hidden agenda”) they cannot be accused of homophobia. The true value of Martina was shown during the Coming Out show that featured Dane Bowers’ birthday party on a boat. Bowers, perhaps looking for a vent for some ditty he composed in the vein of Van Day’s heinous Biff Baff Boff, exemplified the sort of unspeakable bush meat that was waiting in the sidings should someone drop out. Still, we were at least spared members of Goldie Lookin’ Chain.
3. George Takei. Our favourite simply because Mr Sulu was our favourite Star Trek character. He has enjoyed a renaissance as an actor as those Star Trek fans who were kids in the 60s and 70s are now directors and writers and can cast him in Star Trek’s spiritual descendants such as Heroes. Also inspired one of the best Ant & Dec quotes: “I know what you’re thinking,” said Dec before the start of Celebrity Cyclone. “How did we get insurance for a 71-year-old bloke to do this!”
4. David Van Day. Made the show interesting in the same way Josef Stalin made post-WWII Soviet Union interesting. His bickering with Nicola ensured both savoured a infamy way above their respective merits. This was exploited in the final week, when a ‘leak’ claimed that he was way ahead in the daily votes. This may or may not have been true, but its inevitable consequence was an avalanche of votes for the other three contestants that might not otherwise have been made, and no doubt about 60 Facebook groups were set up as the self-castrating morons of the world registered their protest with their inglorious habitual impotence.
5. Simon Webbe. His girlfriend was among the ubiquitous ‘friends & family’ who had flown to Australia to support their loved one, and also to compose missives tainted by emotional triggers in the form of “We love you, and we’re all so proud of you” to coerce the relevant celebrity to weep and supply the show with one of those moments of universal humanity that everyone can empathise with but because of the synthetic nature of the ruse it is stripped of all its humanity and instead is factory-produced sorrow. She also said: “I’m kind of flattered when girls come up to me in the street and say, ‘your boyfriend is a bit of a hunk!’” How do they know she’s Webbe’s girlfriend? Does she wear a T-shirt saying ‘I’m Simon Webbe’s girlfriend’, even though most people had forgotten who he was?
6. Nicola McLean. In possession of a vocabulary that makes a dim-witted myna bird appear to verbalise like Dr Samuel Johnson, she is the one from the billions of amorphous glamour models pulled from the sea of anonymity to enjoy the favours of the tabloid press. Idiot journalists will wait for her answers with the anticipatory reverence that might once have been the preserve of Socrates, the familiarity ‘babe’ will slither further away from the primordial slime of ineloquence where it has rested since the guns fell silent on the Western Front, and she and adversary David Van Day will conduct a symbiotic relationship that was founded and will persist on their undying mutual antipathy as team captains on Alan Carr’s Celebrity Ding Dong or some other gutteral outlet.
7. Brian Paddick. It was almost as if someone had walked on set and managed to convince the rest of the camp that they were indeed a celebrity and deserved to stay. His pointlessness was summed up in that more screen time was devoted to Timmy kissing Brian’s fiancé than there was to his post-eviction film.
8. Esther Rantzen. One of the few to retain her dignity throughout, but this is precisely why she was such a failure. Not seen as desperate by the voting public, merely near retirement, there was no pleasure to be gained from abasing her, nor was there anything fresh to learn about her.
9. Timmy Mallett. Whatever Timmy Mallett’s motivation was for appearing, he failed. Sure, he might get the odd guest appearance on a cheap daytime quiz, during which he’ll be introduced as being “all the way from the jungle” but he symbolises both the desperation and futility of I’m A Celebrity. Called upon during Coming Out to not shriek like a wolf, giggle at Kilroy or bruise the precious Brian Paddick, he was awkward and only able to chat with David Van Day as his lackey.
10. Carly Zucker. With a voice sounding like manacles being dragged along the sodden deck of a pirate ship, she always was likely to be insignificant. Her role in the camp was to have ‘cat fights’ with the other young women, an exercise so cynically plotted it’s akin to dropping two starving pitbull terriers into a cage. After Dani had said she was “talentless”in The Sun, the two conspired and consoled that it was “the press twisting things”, when in reality it was Dani adhering to the vacuous stereotypes already set in stone in the tabloid Bible, which are inscribed from their own preconceptions, TV forums and the ITV1 editing suite.
11. Dani Behr. Behr’s problem from her TV presenting days was her voice that is so insincere it makes Noel Edmonds sound like Ian Curtis. And this plasticity endured into her section in the Coming Out Show. She was reunited with her children in a contrived scene staged simply to see her shed tears. The flaw here is that such scenes are only ever memorable and evocative at the culmination of a heart-rending narrative. A mother reuniting with her children is both touching and mundane, but I’m A Celebrity, and other reality shows, seek to create and initiate viewer affection from this finale when it should have been established long beforehand and this the emotional pay-off.
12. Robert Kilroy-Silk. The man who resembles a shattered translucent wine bottle slowly leaking into a swimming pool knew he was on a hiding to nothing, knew he had been hired to be the resident hate figure. He therefore accepted each new, ever more ignominious Bush Tucker Trial with the fatalism of a man reaching for some kind of public redemption, that if he suffers enough he will be forgiven. But this blinded him to what people really wanted to see – his discomfort and humiliation, which was blunted by his redemptive resolve making him obsolete.