Allies of Nigel Farage and ITV are locked in a row over claims that the former Ukip leader is being censored on I’m A Celebrity.
Ahead of the show’s finale in just under two weeks, ITV has been accused of using “insane dirty tricks” to limit Farage’s airtime.
Friends of the former politician, 59, have even suggested that ITV are trying to stop him from winning the programme’s 23rd edition.
Insiders have claimed that the GB News presenter captivated his fellow campmates with anecdotes about his relationship with former president Donald Trump this week, but that none of this aired on the latest screening of the show.
A friend of Farage suggested to the MailOnline that a “bigger game” may be afoot between ITV and the former politician, and his allies confirmed last night that they held these suspicions too.
It is expected that Farage hasn’t communicated with his team about the issue, as contestants are not supposed to be able to have any contact with the outside world while in the jungle.
Meanwhile, viewers have commented on his minor appearance in Sunday’s episode, in which he only popped up to say: “I love the jungle, it’s beautiful,” before putting his head in a bucket to wash his face.
Mocked by ITV’s director of television
The row comes as the former Member of the European Parliament, who is reportedly being paid up to £1.5 million for his appearance on the reality show, was seemingly mocked by ITV’s director of television at a promotional event.
Kevin Lygo, 66, appeared on stage at the ITV Palooza event alongside a sign language interpreter and joked: “Thank you to the signer - I don’t know any sign language, I just know the sign for Nigel Farage.”
The executive was then seen to make a rude one-handed gesture and speaking later about the Brexit campaigner, he added: “Don’t worry, he knows he has to come home from Australia in a dinghy.”
An ITV source told The Sun that these comments were made at a private event and that Mr Lygo was joking, saying: “The comments were clearly in jest”.
Speaking from the Gold Coast on GB News on Tuesday night, reporter Ben Leo suggested that ITV wanted Farage “out of the jungle”.
He said they intended to “tarnish his reputation and make sure he has no future in politics”.
‘Each episode is a fair representation of life in camp’
Farage said before he went on the programme that he was hoping for a Matt Hancock-style reputation rehabilitation through his appearance.
So far, fellow contestants have accused him of being “anti-immigrant” as well as taunted him about his role in convincing the public to vote leave in Brexit.
A former MEP, Farage was a prominent Leave campaigner in the run up to the UK’s vote to withdraw from the EU in 2016.
It is understood the ITV’s executives hope that Farage’s participation would attract the same attention as Hancock’s appearance in last year’s series, which resulted in him being stripped of the Conservative whip amid outcry from his local Conservative association and constituents in West Suffolk.
Addressing the concerns about censorship, a show spokesperson said: “We are a 60-75 minute entertainment show and the content featured in each episode is a fair and accurate representation of life in camp”.
The I’m A Celeb grand finale is scheduled for Sunday Dec 10 on ITV1 and ITVX.