Aaron Hates TV: I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!
By Aaron Wood Dec 2, 2012 - 6:00 AM
So...it started with Guttman asking me "What are you least favourite TV shows?". An hour's worth of writing and several uses of adult language later, the sod had tricked me into essentially writing a prototype column for the re-vamped site.
See, here's the weird thing. For a wrestling fan, I can be quite a snob about what I think is good and bad TV. I'll happily admit it. And while there is a lot to like (and over time I shall come to those), there is also a hell of a lot to hate about TV in the current age. And I now have, and am actively encouraged to bitch about it.
So when appropriate, I shall be making myself sit through some of the worst horse manure that television can throw at me, and I shall bitch about it.
Last night (Saturday night) saw the finale to the TWELTH God-damn season of "I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!" where a group of "celebrities" (because frankly, we're not exactly talking the friggin' A-list ot talent here...) are placed in an Australian jungle (albeit one that's been set up to film perfectly happily in instead of, say, the middle of an actual untouched jungle as nature intended) and live out there for either as long as they can take it, or until they are voted out by the public, living on little food and next to no luxuries.
Food can be won by/for the group in a series of trials known as "Bushtucker Trials", where the contestants are made to do thing that would be considered disgusting such as eating disgusting sound parts of animals (i.e. Kangaroo anus is a common reference to make in mockery of this aspect), or dealing with tons of insects.
This year's "cast" is as follows:
Brian Conley - Conley is what we call a "light entertainer". He's essentially a comedian, but a very inoffensive one, but also does presenting, singing and some acting. His biggest thing is having a bit where he had a character called "Dangerous Brian" who was bad at stunts and another character with a puppet sidekick whose catchphrase was "It's a Puppet!" Honestly, I can't bag on the guy, mainly because he's just so bladn and inoffensive.
Colin Baker - The sixth man to play Doctor Who, from 1984 to 1986 (with an 18-break between his first and second seasons, so barely at all) before being fired at the insistence of the BBC's bosses. And indeed, he's not ranked up there with the best portrayals of the character. Though to be fair, it was a bad time for the show in general.
Ashley Roberts - A Pussycat Doll that isn't Nicole Scherzinger. So you know...no-one knows anything about her. Because she's not Nicole Scherzinger.
David Haye - British boxer. Former world champion in one of the 9819764 governing bodies. Was then roundly beaten by one of the Klitschko brothers and blamed his shitty performance on a bad little toe before getting in a fight with another shitty British boxer.
Helen Flanagan - Former cast member of long-running British Soap Opera "Coronation Street". Has a big pair of boobs.
Nadine Dorries - Current Member of Parliament with the governing Conservative party. If you aren't aware, basically, the Conservatives are the US Republican party. A controversial figure, she has, in her time as a MP, tried twice to limit the amount of time where abortion would be available and legal (although she didn't og the full Todd Akin), attempted to block interested group from providing abortion counselling and criticised her own party leader, Prime Minster David Cameron, and Chancellor George Osbourne as "two arrogant posh boys who don't know the price of milk". As it goes, she signed up to do this show without clearing it with her party, both at a national and local level, and she has been essentially been kicked out, although she remains an "Independent" MP.
Hugo Taylor - A former "participant" in a show called Made In Chelsea. Don't worry, in due time, I will give this show the ire it deserves. Basically think of "The Hills". So I believe that the word best uysed to describe him is "twat".
Linda Robson - Comic actress and presenter best known for her role in sitcom "Birds Of A Feather" and current regular panellist on "Loose Women", which is the UK version of "The View".
Charlie Brooks - Actress currently on sabbatical from long-running soap opera "Eastenders", the big rival to Coronation Street. Her appearance on this show is mildly controversial as she was expected to take part in the special Xmas version of the BBC show "Strictly Come Dancing" (Dancing With The Stars), but instead signed to appear on the rival network show.
Eric Bristow - Darts legend, although he has long retired from the sport. May be best remembered today for a quote from the late legendary darts commentator Sid Waddell, when he proclaimed, upon Bristow's first World Title win, "When Alexander of Macedon was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer. Eric Bristow is only 27."
Then 2 others joined later on:
Limahl - Lead singer with 1980's band Kajagoogoo, only really remembered for this biggest (and first) single "Too Shy" and his, then, trademark hairstyle.
Rosemary Shrager - A "celebrity" chef although her TV work has not been as prolific others, usually being an element of a show rather than fronting a show of her own, although she has done this in the past.
As is often the way with this sort of interminable TV, it's main purpose is to serve in an almost cabalistic kind of way, as a news generating vehicle. The show has something controversial happen, it's picked up big by the tabloid newspapers, idiots tune in to see what's going on. And the producers sure hhit a home run on that right away. As noted, Helen Flanagan has big boobs. And thus, tabloids LOVE her because they will print any cleavage shots they can, of, well, almost anyone. So her, in a jungle where she's likely to be in a bikini? SCORE!
Put it this way, Myleene Klass was part of the winning pop group in the first season of Popstars, the pre-cursor to the likes of Pop Idol and X Factor. However, once the band split, she went on this show, took a shower in her bikini which resulted in this picture:
And BAM! Her career was made since, getting regular TV presenting work and essentially the most successful person to come from that group. And so, the tabloids were lining up to get Helen in the jungle and under that waterfall shower for their iconic pictures van drivers could have a self-high five to. And indeed, aside from the very real controversy of Nadine Dorries going on the show, much of the publicity going into this season was about Helen. Why she quite Coronation Street. How she would maintain her highly-made up look in the jungle. How many bikinis she was taking. Whether she'd be excused from doing any challenges.
Well, as soon as the show began, it became apparent that not only was Helen not going to be allowed to sit out challenges, but she was also going to end up playing a role in another classic trope that the tabloid press like to trolley out during shows like this. Hysterical revulsion to the point of bullying.
Helen was selected, by the public to take part in the second Bushtucker trial, along with Dorries. They failed. Miserably. They won no food at all for the camp. Helen was publicly voted in again to take part in the next trial (the famed animal part eating trial, where Helen ate, you'll love this, a camel toe. Get it? A camel toe...as in she ate an actual camel's toe, but you can say that this press-sexualised person ate a camel toe...as in vagina!)
Helen lost that challenge to Nadine, so again won nothing for her camp. And then she was voted in again for the next trial. And again, thanks to her quitting, she won nothing. And then things hit rock bottom. She was voted, once again, to take part in a trial, along with Charlie Brooks, which involved swimming in a tank with crocodiles in it, grabbing stars (which represented meals for their camp) with their mouths in the domes of the tank. While Helen grabbed four stars in the challenge, the rules said she had to grab the stars with her teeth, but she used her hands, despite being constantly told by the hosts to use her mouth. So she was DQ'ed and again, no food was won by her.
And that's when the shit hit the fan. More and more stories were coming out about how Helen wasn't liked by her camp mates. Tabloids and websites were either asking, or plain stating that the poor girl was the "most annoying contestant EVER". The press were laying into her about how someone could be such an epic failure. Never mind that this is the same press running stories about her maybe being excused the same challenges she was now being constantly voted into because of panic attacks that had driven her to quit her part in Corrie.
It was all a disgusting vicious circle. She starts failing, and the press laugh along are her terribleness, planting the idea to make the clown jump through hoops again (remember most of these trials are public voted). But then she kept failing, turning the press reaction to one of annoyance and irritation. And remember, this was going HAND IN HAND with them printing pictures of her in her bikini, essentially telling people to either ogle her breasts.
She would end up failing a fifth straight Bushtucker Trial, winning no food once again. And yet again, she was voted in for now a sixth straight trial. But oddly, she not only did well, in that trial, which involved having her head in a box of bugs while negotiating a maze, but she ACED the challenge, scoring 12 out 12 stars, winning food for everyone. Some quarters of the press, rather than being happy for this poor woman, sent from pillar to post and possibly not in the most stable of minds, decided this success was down to one thing.
She could have done the rest of the challenges, but she was trying to win the nation's sympathy (which if was a plan, had backfired spectacularly by this point) with an aim of winning the show. And so others had to take to the press to deny those claims from "show insiders". It was all a very convenient self-perpetuating cycle of utter bullshit. Helen would actually do the next Trial too, scoring only 5 our of 12 stars, although this would be the last trial she did.
Now, if you want to talk about TV fakery, and indeed, it's something that a number of shows in recent years have been caught doing, oddly enough all the controversy about Flanagan came to head precisely in time for the home straight of the show and it's evictions as they whittled the contestants down on a daily basis to find a winner.
Brian Conley was actually thefirst to leave the show, albeit on medical ground. The first one voted off was the repugnant Dorries. She was followed by Limahl, Linda Robson, Colin Baker, Helen Flanagan, Rosemary Shragar, Hugo Taylor and Eric Bristow. This mean the final three were David Haye, Charlie Brooks and Ashley Roberts. Haye was eliminated yesterday (Friday) to finish third, which means that last night's finale was between Roberts and Brooks for the title of "Queen Of The Jungle".
It was a standard opening, as you'd expect, picking up from Haye's departure. The hosts, Ant & Dec, did a rather unfunny skit where Dec lost a bunch of cash in the "Reality Show Cliché Sweepstake". This is what is wrong with this shit. It works to such a rigid formula and is entirely designed by the producers to have such a linear path for a "reality" programme that you can telegraph what is going to be said an done. However, rather than do things differently or try to shake up the formula even slightly so that the clichés aren't applicable, and show the viewer some degree of respect and show their viewers have brains, they choose to flaunt it in the viewers face as a joke. You know what that is REALLY telling the viewer?
WE DO THE SAME SHIT EVERY TIME AND YOU ARE ALL SHEEP FOR WATCHING.
They then went back to pre-recorded footage of the previous day, as the girls were notified of the final Bushtucker Trial (described as the "most disgusting" yet). It wasn't actually said what the challenge was, although it was heavily inferred by the two talking about eating things and how it was what they feared doing the most.
They arrived at the site for the trial to find a table well set out. For Eight. Don't ask me why they set the table to eight when it was just the 2 of them. Yeah, let's set up six place settings that are entirely redundant! Two seats, facing each other, would have been perfectly adequate. Basically, the challenge was to eat unpleasant things to be rewarded with a really nice meal later.
After the break, we got footage of the trail. I should note that, for obvious reasons, most of this show was pre-recorded footage. Very few of the shows and trails themselves were fully live. Basically, Ashley and Charlie had to eat four courses of disgusting things to get four courses of nice food later.
Ashley's starter was a deep-fried camel's cock. So Helen ate a "camel toe" and now Ashley chows down on wang. And naturally, Ant & Dec had to do their best to hold their sniggers in. Somewhat ironically, rather than a whole one, Ashley had to eat just the tip of it. Charlie's starter was a live witchetty grub. They both got it down with the encouragement of each other. Ashley's "main course" was a raw fish eye. You could hear it pop as she chewed down on it. But she got it down. Charlie's "main course" was half of an unnamed animal's brain. She got up and wretched a bit, but eventually swallowed it.
The "desserts" were 2 cockroaches for Ashley and 2 turkey testicles for Charlie. The final things they had to ingest were drinks. Ashley got a cup of fermented duck egg. It pretty much didn't hit the sides as she downed it. Charlie's drink was blended cockroaches, crickets and meal-worms. Ant kept saying what it was, prompting Ashley to snipe at him to shit up. Charlie got it down though, so they all had fully completed their trial and a complete, lavish meal.
But this just raises the big question. Who on earth, in their right mind would want to watch this? And more so, who in their right mind when commissioning the show, thought this would be entertaining and of value? Indeed, you have to ask why Charlie signed up for the show? This was the one thing she didn't want to do. She said herself that SHE DOESN'T WATCH THESE SORTS OF TRIALS WHEN THEY COME ON. She had to know it was coming one day, especially as she was getting nearer the end.
But this was a truly disgusting thing to watch. How have watching someone almost not keep food down and almost vomiting it back up again while the hosts pretty much actively sniggered throughout the whole thing be considered entertainment. As they went back to their camp, they agreed that no matter what, they had both won. Ashley talked about eating the things, interspersed with shots of her almost chucking her guts up. Same with Charlie.
We then got some footage of them having their nice Mexican-meal. Because that just screams Australian cuisine. "OMG" was said a lot here. In a side-interview, Charlie posited that the single-Ashley might bang the waiter. We then see them discuss the private parts they ate. That said, because this didn't involve anything all that disgusting, humiliating or that interesting, so this bit didn't last all that long.
The hosts then introduced a compilation of the season and it's "most entertaining moments", featuring some comments from the already eliminated contestants. And a lot of it was revolving around Helen, her failures, and the rest of the casts ensuing hunger. That said, they sure did show Eric Bristow as a complete prick. That said, that was something he was seen as during his darts days.
Back from break, the hosts claimed the voting was incredibly close and that the lead had actually changed during the show. Call bullshit on that one. They then brought in the pair live for a quick, time filler, interview, doing the standard thing of showing their best bits.
They showed a clip of Ashley tricking some camp mates into waking up during the night. She got Hugo good and proper, which made him seem like a right tool. When asked, she said that winning would be a cheery on top, but the journey was great itself. Charlie said much the same, before saying they should share the crown, given what they'd been through. She said despite knowing and liking the show before, she wasn't prepared for the longevity of it.
And they talked about...guess who...HELEN! Mainly from Charlie's perspective of her, as she said the rest babied her along while Charlie was the first to speak up. Ant noted this season set a record low for stars won in Bushtucker Trials. They brought out Charlie's daughter Kiki for the big emotional reunion as they announced the voting lines had closed and would reveal the winner soon enough. They then went to pre-recorded comments from the other contestants on Ashley and Charlie. They're both awesome, by all reckoning.
The final part saw them have most of the other contestants on set (Nadine had flown home, probably to try and salvage her career), ready to announce the winner. And the winner was Charlie Brooks. Ashley said she was proud of her journey and had done so much more than they expected. Charlie couldn't believe it. The result was hardly a surprise. For one, she's a popular actress, even though her character on the show was that of a bitch.
They promoted a "Coming Out Show" to find out what happened to everyone as they left the show as well as an "Extra" show (Think Talking Dead to The Walking Dead) on the sister ITV2 station. And there's a story to that one. They then sent Charlie off across a bridge to get her picture taken for the morning newspapers.
Basically, that extra was once hosted by stand up comedian, and my friend Brendon Burns, basically purely because he's Australian and the producers thought they could do with someone edgy. Well, basically, he hated working on it from the first second and when on the second show, a horribly stereotypical corked hat was put on his head, he quit there on the spot, live on air.
If the site had relaunched earlier, I could have covered the show in fuller detail. As it goes, I can't really say a bad word about either of the remaining participants. They both came off as being the best people in the world, and you have to credit them with spending the last few weeks in a jungle setting with little food and having to do disgusting things.
But my issue with the show itself existing is this. It is, essentially designed, as I laid out earlier, to be a vehicle for constructed controversy. When the next season of Big Brother starts over here, I'll certainly be able to get into this argument more. But basically, as I noted, the show feeds the press and in turn feeds the show, manipulating it's audience into essentially being the producers puppets. But not in a worthwhile way such as when watching a drama or film and there's something that happens that moves you as the producers intended. Producers of these shows are, essentially, a bunch of Eric Bischoffs. Controversy Creates Cash.
Helen is useless, let's all force her into dancing like a trained chimp again! Money from phone voting. Helen's a horrible person! Let's punish her! Money from phone voting. The contestants are eliminated each day, Money from phone voting. It's all about the Elizabeth's to them. And the sad thing is, this sort of utter, often stomach-turning, drivel will always have an audience. Even after the concept is long dead. Hell, Big Brother can't even be killed off even if the public really don't give a shit anymore.