Nigel Farage finishes third in I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!

<span>Photograph: ITV/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: ITV/Shutterstock

Nigel Farage has finished third in the reality TV show I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!

The rightwing politician and commentator reached the final three of the long-running ITV series, in which celebrities subject themselves to trials such as eating kangaroo testicles.

Farage, who received a £1.5m fee for his appearance on the show, made Sunday night’s final alongside Tony Bellew and Sam Thompson, the eventual winner.

The former Ukip leader, who has failed to be elected to parliament despite standing on seven occasions, had used his airtime to speculate over a return to the Conservatives in “never say never” comments to a fellow contestant in the Australian bush.

In the final episode he joked: “I’m now a remainer – a camp remainer that is. I’m absolutely thrilled to be one of the last three.”

For his final bushtucker trial, Farage was locked in a metal box filled with snakes. Leaving the show after 23 days in the jungle, Farage said his legs were “a bit weary”.

Asked why he took part in the show this year, having been asked before, he said: “I had time to do it and I’m 60 next birthday and going to reach an age where you can’t do it.

“This is very physical, bringing buckets of water, doing the challenges, so now was the right time to do it and I’m very pleased I did. I did my best to show no fear at all in the challenges.”

This year’s series was plagued by headlines about falling viewing figures – just 7 million tuned in for the opening episode, down 2.1 million on the previous year. The show’s presenters, Ant and Dec, called for the reality programme to take a break from having politicians as contestants.

Last year the former health secretary Matt Hancock took part in the show in an attempt to rehabilitate his public image after he was forced to resign from government when he broke his own Covid guidelines. He also finished third.

Asked whether Rishi Sunak would be a potential future campmate, Dec said: “I think we do a year without any politicians.”

“Agreed, agreed, agreed,” Ant responded.

Thompson, a television personality and radio presenter who appeared on Made in Chelsea, said he was “really overwhelmed” to have been crowned king of the jungle, adding: “I didn’t think I was even going to be invited on this show.”

Speaking to voters, he said: “I am so grateful, thank you so much, I’ve dreamt of doing this show for years and years and you made this boy’s dream come true.”

As the series began, the BBC presenter Chris Packham published an open letter to the presenters accusing the show of exploiting animals.