Magazine article The Spectator

Clash of Egos

Magazine article The Spectator

Clash of Egos

Article excerpt

A few years ago on a Caribbean island, I tried smoking crack. It tasted absolutely delicious, like toffee bananas, and for about ten minutes I felt quite fantastic. But I still don't think it's nearly as stupid or addictive or bad for you as I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here (ITV1).

I promised myself, as I always do, that I wasn't going to watch it. But during North & South (BBC1, Sunday) - which I like but would probably like more if I weren't slightly worried about the liberties I gather it has been taking with the novel - I couldn't resist flicking over every now and again to see how the latest bunch of nonentities were getting on in the jungle.

Like most of you, I imagine, I hardly recognised any of them, apart from toothy annoyance Janet Street-Porter, disgraced butler Paul Burrell and former lovable TV cop sidekick Huggy Bear. The rest were a bunch of virtually undifferentiable blondes and men with terrible haircuts and common accents.

This ought to have been the time to sigh wearily and go back to North & South, especially once I'd been reminded how slow I'm a Celebrity is: for every thrilling incident that everyone's going to be talking about the next day round the office waterdispenser, you have to wade through about five hours of inconsequential nothingness. Instead, though, as soon as the terrestrial broadcast ended on ITV1, I felt a strange force impelling me to switch over to the hardcore addicts' continuation edition - I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here - Now on ITV2.

When its amiable presenter Mark Durden-Smith asked Ant and Dec who, at this early stage, they fancied as the winner, I found myself genuinely interested in what they had to say. (They were tightlipped, though they did think it was going to be quite spicy this year because of all the potential ego clashes.) And when Tara Palmer-Tomkinson chipped in to say that Burrell had his work cut out to get her vote, I nodded sagely and thought, 'Yeah. He is looking a bit of a slimeball so far. And, frankly, his sweaty nervousness when they were forced to do the unexpected parachute jump was deeply unattractive . . . '

Over the next few weeks, of course, you will read many further disquisitions as to why I'm a Celebrity is so addictive and much impassioned advocacy for the various candidates. So much, indeed, that if you've somehow resisted the urge to watch this silly, pointless programme you will be made to feel - a bit like in that period when the country lost its head after the death of Diana - a freak. …

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