The executive producer of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! said enlisting Matt Hancock to appear on the popular reality series was “not a question of trying to divide camp”.
The former health secretary, 44, is joining the likes of rugby player Mike Tindall, pop star Boy George and former Love Island contestant Olivia Attwood in the Australian jungle.
Following his decision to join the ITV reality show, Mr Hancock faced criticism from opposition politicians and from within his own party, with the Tory whip suspended on Tuesday.
We’re BACK down under with a host of brand new celebrities, ready to face the terrifying trials and tribulations of the jungle 🦘😱#ImACeleb returns this Sunday at 9pm on ITV, STV and ITV Hub. @antanddec pic.twitter.com/yf8LnMRWnc
— I'm A Celebrity… (@imacelebrity) October 31, 2022
On putting the West Suffolk MP on the show, 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.”
Mr Hancock was forced to quit as health secretary in June 2021 after breaking coronavirus social distancing rules by having an affair in his ministerial office with aide Gina Coladangelo.
His soon-to-be jungle campmate property expert Scarlette Douglas, tweeted on the day he resigned: “Good, get out of here.”
Good, get out of here
— Scarlette Douglas (@scardoug) June 26, 2021
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.
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.
— Charlene White (@CharleneWhite) January 27, 2021
Mr 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 show.
Chivonne Preston, chief executive officer of the British Dyslexia Association said: “We are grateful when public figures like Matt use their platforms to draw attention to the barriers and challenges that the dyslexia community faces.
“Dyslexia is misunderstood and despite being incredibly common is often hidden, [and] many people in our community feel like their struggles are unseen. We welcome opportunities to shine a light on dyslexia and inspire people to seek help and support.”
His appearance comes as he faces questions over whether he broke rules on seeking permission over jobs taken within two years of leaving office.
Lord Pickles, the Conservative chairman of the anti-corruption watchdog, which advises on post-ministerial jobs, is expected to write to Mr Hancock to demand clarification.
Under the rules, Mr Hancock should seek clearance from Acoba for any new employment or appointments he takes on until next June.
Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly return to host I’m A Celebrity in its original location in the Australian jungle after the past two series were filmed at Gwrych Castle in North Wales due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.