Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Tummy Rumbles In The Jungle

It seems as though every time I leave the country for more than a week, I come back to find that Ant and Dec are back on TV, giggling their way through a bunch of lazily scripted links on a new series of I Used To Be Able To Get A Table In The Ivy, Please Keep Me In Here. This time around I’ve missed two days of jungle action, but since the show remains as rigidly formulaic as ever, it shouldn’t take me too long to get up to speed.

In one of the longest-running sponsorship arrangements in reality TV history, Iceland is still the proud enabler of the ritualistic torture of any D-list celebrity with a two-week window in their bookings calendar. However, in a shocking twist, they’ve ditched the ‘party like a celebrity’ strapline, presumably because one of their marketing interns pointed out that a tenner gets you a tray of mini lasagnas and a prawn ring, not a few lines of gak and a hotel room full of barely legal girls. Even so, I’m not entirely sure that a show about people cramming foul things into their mouths is the best advertising platform for a supermarket chain. Especially since Iceland’s exclusive £1 deep-pan donner kebab pizza would have me hungrily eyeing up a wallaby’s ball-sack.

As always, the show is fronted by Ant and Dec who are starting to get a little long in the tooth for this matey flat-share banter. They’ve been plying their confusing blend of homoeroticism and homophobia since Bruce Forsyth had his own teeth, and it’s not getting any funnier. Not that it matters, since the production crew are on hand to bellow loudly every time one of them cracks a weakly scripted joke. And I’m sorry to say that, even though it’s over twenty years since they were washing paintballs out of their eyes on Byker Grove, I still don’t know which is which. To me, they’ll always be the little squeaky one, and the one who looks as though his face was drawn onto his head upside down.

The show’s website has a helpful at-a-glance guide to this year’s cast, largely because they’re either unknown or unrecognizable. That goes doubly for former Doctor Who Colin Baker, who appears to have spent the last couple of decades eating to the point that even the inside of the Tardis would feel a little claustrophobic. Here to win this year’s Joe Pasquale vote is Brian Conley, a man who’s never made anyone laugh; except for maybe his agent who gets 20% regardless. Brian’s lamenting the moments of exhausted silence, when all the energy seems to drop out of the group. But he’s been touring his act for years, so he must be used to it by now.

Representing the soap operas are Charlie Brooks and Helen Flanagan. The latter is here to help the Daily Mail trot out their favourite ‘flaunting her curves’ cliché whenever she appears in anything other than a rain-soaked sleeping bag. She’s also this year’s screamy wobbler, bursting into tears every time she has to brush her hair, put on a hat or exhale. Janine from EastEnders, on the other hand, serves no purpose other than to annoy Charlie Brooker every time someone gets their names mixed up.

In the blonde Tory battleaxe corner is Nadine Dories, who’s proudly boasting about what a tough cookie she is. She tells us her colleagues call her ‘balls of steel’. Of course, that’s the name they say to her face – I imagine the others are far less complementary.

Every season needs a bemused American, so say ‘hello’ to former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts. She’s obviously keen to follow Nicole Scherzinger’s example and forge a lucrative reality TV career, so she should be congratulated for striking while the iron’s hot. Since the PCD’s had 11 members over the years, the opportunities will probably dwindle, the longer the other girls leave it. In the Hollywood Hills, Jessica Sutter is throwing out another failed Victoria sponge, and Melody Thornton is squatting over a hand-mirror, wondering if Doctor Christian can help.

Speaking of reality TV stars, spare a thought for Hugo Taylor, who was Made in Chelsea out of chamois leather and champagne corks. He’s an ineffectual wisp of a man, who bursts into tears when he fails at a task designed to develop toddlers’ motor skills. To be fair, he was competing against boxer David Haye, the take-no-prisoners alpha male of the group. The other sportsman (I use the term loosely) is Eric Bristow, who can’t even lay claim to be the fattest man in camp thanks to corpulent Colin.

Finally, there’s Linda Robson, whose sole contribution to tonight’s installment was an extended fantasy monologue about a cheese board. Do Kraft Singles and Dairylea count? All in all, it’s one of the most woeful line-ups we’ve ever seen, boasting less star power than a regional Pantomime – a situation unlikely to be remedied when Limahl and Rosemary Shrager are drafted in tomorrow.

The main focus of tonight’s show was the Bushtucker Trial, which was yet another dull eating task. To be honest, when you’ve seen one D-lister retch her way through a chewy ostrich anus, you’ve seen them all. The only notable moment in the entire affair was when thousands of mislead viewers switched off in disgust, having misinterpreted the promise of Helen Flanagan’s camel toe.

They may have only been in there for 48 hours, but tempers are already flaring. David is fuming about the fact that the two camps are to be merged since “the toilet is already working at full capacity.” I’m not sure why that is, since they’ve spent most of day three complaining about how hungry they all are. Meanwhile, it’s all kicking off at Croc Creek, because Hugo and Nadine are arguing about how al dente they should be serving their asparagus spears. Posh people – gleefully missing the point for hundreds of years.

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