'I'm A Celebrity' boss defends Matt Hancock signing: We're not trying to divide camp

Matt Hancock, alongside other members of Conservative Party, waits outside the party headquarters in Westminster, London, for the arrival of Rishi Sunak, the new leader of the Conservative party. Picture date: Monday October 24, 2022. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Matt Hancock has apparently not been signed by I'm A Celebrity to divide camp. (PA)

I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!'s executive producer has defended the decision to put Matt Hancock into the reality show, insisting that the aim is not to "divide camp".

This week, it emerged that disgraced former health secretary Hancock was set to be a late addition to the cast line-up, leading to him having the parliamentary whip suspended so that he will no longer be a member of the Conservative Party.

Read more: I'm A Celebrity 2022's full line-up confirmed

However, Hancock is still an elected MP for West Suffolk and claims he will still be able to serve his constituents while in the Australian-set show, although his decision to take part has sparked much anger.

Mike Tindall MBE,, Owen Warner, Olivia Attwood, Charlene White, Boy George, Chantelle Douglas, Sue Cleaver, Chris Moyles, Babatúndé Aléshé and Jill Scott MBE - I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here 2022 (ITV/Lifted Entertainment)
Mike Tindall, Owen Warner, Olivia Attwood, Charlene White, Boy George, Chantelle Douglas, Sue Cleaver, Chris Moyles, Babatúndé Aléshé and Jill Scott are the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! starting line-up. (ITV/Lifted Entertainment)

The show's executive producer 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.”

Read more: Campaign launched to make Matt Hancock do every I'm A Celebrity trial

But it seems likely that Hancock's arrival in camp will split the group, with the first 10 celebrities beginning their jungle stay on Sunday.

His soon-to-be jungle campmate property expert Scarlette Douglas, tweeted on the day he resigned: “Good, get out of here.”

Matt Hancock
Many people have expressed anger at Matt Hancock entering the show. (AP)

Meanwhile, Loose Women star Charlene White, who will also appear in the jungle this year, has previously been critical of the COVID strategy while Mr Hancock was health secretary.

She tweeted in January 2021: “We’re one of the richest nations in the country, with one of the highest Covid death rates.

“To all of you for whom “more than 100k deaths” is an actual loved one, or several loved ones… I get it… today just feels like a lot. Kinda glad it’s my day off tbh.”

Her comments came after the death of her great aunt who died from COVID.

Charlene White crying on Loose Women
Charlene White shared her upset over partygate on Loose Women. (ITV)

Other campmates on the series hosted by Ant and Dec - who made a number of jokes about the Tory partygate scandal in last year's series - include Boy George, Olivia Attwood, Chris Moyles and Sue Cleaver.

Hancock, 44, is rumoured to be entering at the same time as another late addition, comedian Seann Walsh, known for being caught kissing his Strictly Come Dancing partner Katya Jones.

Seann Walsh performs during the Teenage Cancer Trust comedy night, at the Royal Albert Hall, London. (Photo by Matt Crossick/PA Images via Getty Images)
Seann Walsh is also expected to join the show. (PA)

One group particularly outraged by Hancock's inclusion is the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, which has launched a petition to have Hancock removed from the I'm A Celebrity line-up that is approaching 35,000 signatures.

During his time as Health Secretary, Hancock broke his own strict lockdown rules, including when he was caught breaking coronavirus social distancing rules by having an affair in his ministerial office with aide Gina Coladangelo, leading to his resignation from the role in June 2021.

Hancock has explained that he wants to take part so that he can relate to younger voters, give a platform to dyslexia and because politicians should not be "in ivory towers", adding: "I haven’t lost my marbles or had one too many pina coladas."

I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! begins on Sunday at 9pm on ITV.

Watch: Which politicians have appeared on reality TV?