Even on a channel where This Morning offered the prize of paying viewers’ electric bills on its ‘Spin to Win’ competition, there’s been something dystopian about watching shame-averse Matt Hancock transparently launder his reputation on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
The former Health Secretary was criticised for serious failings in the handling of the pandemic (which involved PPE shortages, accusations of awarding lucrative contracts to his mates and dangerously mismanaging care homes) before resigning for allegedly breaking the rules he helped create.
But now he’s decided the best way to show contrition is by skiving off his £84,144-salaried MP job, and abandoning his West Suffolk constituents during a cost of living crisis, to pocket a reported £400,000 to hang out with Boy George and Eileen Grimshaw from Coronation Street in the outback.
Really, there isn’t enough Brasso in the world to polish his neck. But as he inexplicably survives another public vote, and continues to roam around the show dressed in a fedora like a Wish.com Indiana Jones (albeit one who’s lost the whip), it’s time to round up his lowlights.
His entrance and pre-show justification
“Showing the public what politicians are really like is really important,” said Hancock, cynically using reality TV to show viewers the real person he pretends to be. In pre-publicity, he added he was venturing into the jungle to raise awareness of dyslexia. It felt as shamelessly tone-deaf as Star Wars’ Darth Vader appearing on Alderaan’s Got Talent while claiming he’s doing it to highlight the plight of those living with prosthetic arms. Never mind dyslexia, the problem he has is reading the damn room.
“Don’t get me singing, I’m terrible!”
On his first day, he bonded with fellow late-arrival (and kindred tabloid love-rat), comedian Seann Walsh, with a rendition of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’, a choice cringily straight from a ‘Make me relatable’ focus group. “Don’t get me singing, I’m terrible!”, he said, hammily. On another note, he didn’t know who Blink-182 were, and forgot the words while singing Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’.
Matt Hancock: "I love (Ed Sheeran). I'm from Suffolk as well." This is perma-Accidental Partridge pic.twitter.com/eiIkIxgWES
— Graeme Demianyk (@GraemeDemianyk) November 9, 2022
“What I’m looking for is a bit of forgiveness”
In lieu of the findings of the ongoing official COVID enquiry holding people to account, it was uneasily left up to Boy George (threatening to walk out as Hancock’s arrival triggered memories of his mother being in hospital during the pandemic) and Loose Woman Charlene White, whose aunt had died during the disease’s first wave, to get some answers. “What I’m looking for is a bit of forgiveness,” claimed Hancock. Since Moonpig doesn’t have a range of ‘I Killed Your Nan. Soz’ condolence cards, he’s presumably decided the best way to do it is by rubbing salt in the wounds of the bereaved on national TV. You might think that if he wanted to show a scintilla of remorse, he might start by donating his appearance fee to charity, but don’t be silly. This is Matt Hancock we’re talking about – he’s Joe Lycett’s Wario.
“I didn’t break any laws”
A statement that will leave you as angry as Hollyoaks himbo Owen Warner trying to solve a Wordle. Refuting Chris Moyles’ suggestion that he was given a lockdown fine, Hancock said: “I didn’t break any laws, guidance is different. But the problem was, it was my guidance.”
Matt addresses the elephant in the room and answers the big questions dominating camp… #ImACeleb pic.twitter.com/jSA63Ehpgw
— I'm A Celebrity… (@imacelebrity) November 11, 2022
Being voted for multiple trials in a row
The fact that Hancock was voted to undergo multiple consecutive Bushtucker Trials demonstrates that, unlike him, ITV can run an effective app. Asked by host Declan Donnelly why the public kept voting for him, he replied: “It must be the facial expressions”.
La Cucaracha Café
Where Hancock blithely ate a camel’s penis, a sheep’s vagina and a cow’s anus in one sitting, with the resignation of a man who knows he can never walk into a restaurant where the staff haven’t spat in his food. Unless the cow is alive and he has to rim it or a herd of camels are going to bukkake over his face, it isn’t enough.
“You were grabbing the booty, bruv”
We’ve all seen the cringe-fest CCTV of a horned-up Hancock snogging his aide. Even a dildo would go flaccid watching it. But Hancock tried to soft-soap his disgrace by claiming, like a crap Dr Seuss: “I messed up, I fessed up,” elaborating: “I resigned and it’s no excuse but I fell in love, right?” To which comedian Babatunde Aléshé retorted: “You didn’t just ‘fell in love’, you were grabbing the booty, bruv!”
Babatúndé asks former Health Secretary Matt Hancock how things have been “because you messed up”. Matt explains he just “fell in love”
Babatúndé: “You didn’t just fall in love. You were grabbing the booty” #ImACeleb pic.twitter.com/igUk6pAhhT
— Dionne Grant (@DionneGrant) November 10, 2022
When he was bitten by a scorpion
Liz Truss, as one of your last acts, please nominate that scorpion for one of your resignation honours.
Matt Hancock throwing shapes
While Hancock may be a 44-year-old man, he possesses the gawky awkwardness of all three of The Inbetweeners rolled into one. He looks like he naturally perspires Lynx Africa. So when A Place In The Sun presenter Scarlette Douglas guided the campmates through Cameo’s ‘Candy’ dance, Hancock looked like rhythm itself had taken out a restraining order against him.
When he was crowned camp leader
“I’m super-proud of Matt for winning one leadership contest in his life,” mic-dropped White.
When he tried to out-athlete Jill Scott
When national hero Lioness Jill Scott led Hancock in running through the camp, he – in one-upmanship style – suggested they continue. Worse than man-splaining, it was Matt-splaining. She quipped he was in training for Love Island, causing Walsh to say: “The man is a beast. There’s nothing he can’t do”, sadly not adding: ‘Apart from throw a protective ring around care homes, secure PPE, keeping it in his pants etc.”
When COVID campaigners flew a banner over the camp
Because in the unedifying rehabilitation spectacle where viewers are branding him a “good sport” and Lorraine Kelly is questioning whether he’s a sex symbol, thankfully a banner reading “COVID bereaved say get out of here!” flown on behalf of COVID Bereaved Families For Justice reminds us of the anguish that his signing up has caused some. The final word goes to its spokesperson: “Our message emblazoned across the skies makes crystal clear to Matt Hancock, you should be representing the people of West Suffolk and giving Covid Bereaved Families the answers they deserve, rather than playing games for dingo dollars and plastic stars.”