Monday, November 21, 2005

The Faint & The Curious

If there's one thing which marks out a reality show for greatness, it's the sight of a prime minister's daughter pissing next to her bed. If there's two things, then add a soap star collapsing from the stress of eating unseasoned rice. Oh yes, the modern classic of reality TV is back for a fifth series, and it promises much. None of that old "this is a groundbreaking social experiment" rubbish, last night's 'I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here', offered only one thing: "Two weeks of absolute jungle madness". And Natalie Appleton isn't even in it this time.

But hey, who needs a tree-phobic in a hat, when you've got Elaine Lordan, a woman who began by describing herself as "feisty", and then proved it by being carried out on a stretcher after five minutes. Though she had just been introduced to David Dickinson, so perhaps it's not surprising. In addition to Elaine and The Duke, the other eight celebs hoping to resurrect their careers this time around include native Aussie Kimberley Davies, who stated "I hope to leave a lasting impression on the British public". Personally I'm still haunted by the memories of her trying to act in 'Neighbours', so I think she's already achieved that ambition.

Continuing the international theme was little Jimmy Osmond, who admitted "I'm kind of frozen in time" (I think he's referring to his plastic surgery there, but I could be wrong), before welcoming Harry Kewell's long-haired lover from Liverpool, Sheree Murphy, who frankly I've never heard of, and Jenny Frost, who declared "I don't like rude people, I don't like arrogant people, I don't like people who think the world owes them something". Which is why she's agreed to do a celebrity reality show. No chance of meeting any egos there.

Adding to the lack of arrogance was Carol Thatcher, who I'm sure will do her best to avoid mentioning her mother for the entire fortnight, much in the same way that Paul Burrell completely avoided the subject of Princess Diana last year. And then there was Antony Costa of Blue (which is how I feel when I hear their music) who quickly announced "I'm not a muppet". I agree. He looks more like a Teletubby.

Joining the obligatory line-up of former soap stars was Sid Owen, who managed to go a full five seconds before saying "Ricky!", and adding a touch of class was wine expert Jilly Goolden, who attempted to play down her posh-girl image by using the word "bollocks" the moment she arrived.

As for feisty Elaine, she announced "I've got more important things in my life than worrying what the public think of me". So give it a week and she'll be begging for our votes. While Carol endeared herself to the nation by deciding to call David Dickinson 'Chips'. It's a novelty which should have worn off entirely by the end of the first day. If not before. Frankly I could slap her already.

The same cannot be said, however, for Jenny Frost's sneeze. Described by The Duke as sounding "like Muffin the Mule", it has to be heard to be believed, and if ITV have any sense it'll be available on the 'I'm a Celebrity' website as an MP3 download before the week's out. I've put my name down for the polyphonic ring tone already.

But anyway, the celebs soon made their way into the jungle, five by means of a trek through the undergrowth and a shimmy across a ravine, the other 50% re-enacting the Enid Blyton classic that never was - 'Five Jump Out of a Plane'. Which gives me the chance to mention that my girlfriend's cousin's daughter's boyfriend was strapped to David Dickinson. Which is the kind of concrete claim to fame that's made Colleen McLoughlin a star.

Having arrived at the clearing they'll be calling home for the next two weeks, the group set about locating the toilet, with Jenny Frost spotting a green thing hanging on a tree, asking "is it that thing there?", and being told "no, that's the water bottle". Clearly they needed a leader with the ability to distinguish a toilet from a bottle of water, and David Dickinson was duly appointed head of the camp. It was an appropriate appointment because, as Antony pointed out, "he just looks like a chief". Well, he's the colour of a red indian.

As leader, David undertook the week's first Bushtucker Trial along with his willing deputy, Sid. It basically involved going up and down a tree and opening padlocks whilst sitting on a swing, but it was clearly a lot harder than it looked. Having collected only four of a possible ten stars, an exhausted Duke turned to his Boy Wonder and said "pretty physically tough, wasn't it". Sid agreed - "those combination locks... they were stiff". Yes, it was a truly horrific ordeal.

Back in camp, the group set about preparing their evening rations, at which point Jimmy revealed that he'd brought half of Salt Lake City's seasoning supply stuffed up the rear end of his teddy bear. Which didn't actually help much, as none of them knew how to cook. Though you'd imagine Antony Costa can make a cup of coffee.

To help get them in the mood for food, Antony and Sheree promptly volunteered for 'dunny duty'. As Sheree said, "It's not every day you get to pull out a big bucket full of pee and poo". Unless you've done time in prison of course. Step forward our old friend Chips.

But Chips and porridge aside, the group's first day ended on a high with the sterling comedy work of Elaine Lordan. Having keeled over for no apparent reason, Elaine was rescued by the ITV medics and given oxygen, before stating "I feel much better now". At which point she went for the full Norman Wisdom cabaret act, and hit the deck again. Her fellow celebs described Elaine's ability to faint at will as "very, very scary", with Sheree adding "honestly, it was so frightening". Yes, she'd jumped out of an aeroplane and handled a vat of celebrity poo, but there's nothing so scary as an Eastenders star out cold on the floor in front of you. Apart from one fully conscious, that is.

Having carried Elaine out on a stretcher, the baton of camp comic passed into the capable hands of Carol, who chose to mark her territory by having a piss next to the bed. I know there was some confusion about what the toilet looked like, but even Jenny Frost wouldn't just wee by the bedside. Into the water supply, maybe, but next to the bed, no. Ironically Carol was immediately voted in for the next Bushtucker Trial. I just hope she washes her hands.