Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly have poked fun at Matt Hancock during the I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! launch as they confirmed there will be two extra arrivals joining the line-up.
The former health secretary, 44, is expected to enter the Australian jungle in the coming days as one of the surprise additions following on from the other 10 celebrities who made their first appearance on Sunday’s episode.
Following his decision to join the reality show, the MP for West Suffolk had the Tory whip suspended and came under fire from across the political divide after opting to join the show at a time when Parliament is sitting.
Kicking off the first episode of the new series, McPartlin and Donnelly welcomed viewers back to the jungle as the show is returning to Australia for the first time since 2019 after the past two years were shot at Gwrych Castle in North Wales due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
In their opening monologue, McPartlin said: “We have not one but two late arrivals on the way.
“And fortunately we have managed to keep their identities a complete secret. No-one has got a clue who they are.”
Stressing the word “mat”, Donnelly added: “You are going to be surprised, guys. We are going to be rolling out the welcome mat for them soon.”
Responding to criticism, Hancock previously told The Sun he wants to use the “incredible platform” on the show to raise awareness of dyslexia and insisted it “wasn’t the cheque” that made him decide to join the programme.
Leading figures at organisations specialising in dyslexia have said they are grateful to the former cabinet minister for his work raising awareness of the learning difficulty and welcomed a platform for the cause.
After news broke that Hancock was joining the show, many political figures and famous faces shared their thoughts – including a Tory in Hancock’s West Suffolk constituency.
Discussing Hancock’s upcoming appearance, Andy Drummond, who is chairman of Newmarket Conservatives and deputy chairman (political) of West Suffolk Conservative Association, said: “I’m looking forward to him eating a kangaroo’s penis.
“Quote me. You can quote me that.”
On putting Hancock on the show, executive producer of the show Olly Nash told ITV News: “We’ve put in loads of politicians over the years, we also put in people who have had very strong views about certain things and sometimes it plays out in camp and sometimes it doesn’t.
“It’s not a question of trying to divide camp, we have never been a deliberately divisive camp. It’s up to them to come into the camp and it’s up to them if they want to leave.”
Also among the high-profile line-up entering the Australian jungle this series are rugby player Mike Tindall, pop star Boy George and former Love Island contestant Olivia Attwood.
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! continues on ITV and ITV Hub.