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I'm a Celebrity, day 14 review: Series finally shows signs of life in almost watchable episode

Tony Bellew takes on the Eaten Alive challenge
Tony Bellew takes on the Eaten Alive challenge - ITV/Shutterstock

Life in the jungle has been gruelling for everyone on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! But boxer Tony Bellew suffered an especially bum deal in the latest episode as he ended up crawling around the anus of a snake.

Fortunately, it was a giant model rather than the real thing – though, with ratings on the slide, it wouldn’t be a surprise if an actual snake’s rectum were to feature at some point. In the meantime, Bellew did well to slip free of the disgusting simulacrum, crammed with rats and bugs, with enough gold stars for a decent dinner.

I’m A Celebrity has had a slothful time in the jungle in 2023. Viewing figures have been as damp as the rain that has periodically lashed the camp in Australia, while Nigel Farage has wisely declined to become a meme-worthy cartoon villain and successor to prattling prat Matt Hancock.

But as the series cornered into its final week, it belatedly showed signs of life in an instalment that scraped its way to “almost watchable”.

Bellew prepares for his latest Bushtucker Trial with hosts Ant and Dec
Bellew prepares for his latest Bushtucker Trial with hosts Ant and Dec - ITV/Shutterstock

The big change has been Youtuber Nella Rose replacing always-on reality star Sam Thompson as camp leader. One of her first actions was to take revenge against Fred Sirieix, with whom she had an early bust-up, by putting him on dishwashing duties.

Replacing the First Dates smoothie as camp chefs were Josie Gibson and Tony Bellew – plucky amateurs who approached cooking the way they approached the Bushtucker Trials. They closed their eyes and hoped for the best.

This has put blood in the water. Sirieix scowled when Gibson failed to soak the beans at breakfast and was in a proper emotional pickle at dinner time as she bunged all the ingredients – including a scary-looking eel – into a frying pan. “It’s like Kitchen Nightmares”, the maître d’mewled to Danielle Harold – though the rest of the crew judged the meal delicious.

Marvin Humes, Sam Thompson and Danielle Harold during Stumbling Blocks challenge
Marvin Humes, Sam Thompson and Danielle Harold during Stumbling Blocks challenge - Shutterstock

The episode ended with Nella Rose again nominated for the following night’s Bushtucker – a trend ITV surely didn’t predict a fortnight ago. The expectation was that Nigel Farage would receive the nod over and over. That is certainly how he saw it playing out (hence his rumoured record £1.5 million fee). He has instead become a bit player in a season that was supposed to be all about him.

Meanwhile, poor Nella keeps getting shoved into the Bushtucker spotlight. Such was her frustration on Saturday as she unleashed an f-bomb, looking even more fed-up than Fred watching Josie whip up paella.

Nella has been in the headlines in the real world, too – albeit through no fault of her own. I’m A Celebrity’s producers had to apologise after “liking” a hateful comment about her on social media. It’s one more disaster for a series that has failed to make good use of Farage and has already lost two campers – Grace Dent and Jamie Lynn Spears having departed for non-specified medical reasons.

Can the show pick itself up with a little over a week to go? Sunday night will see the first elimination by public vote. Viewers who have stayed the course will cross their fingers that their investment proves worthwhile.

There were flickers of drama tonight as Fred brooded over Josie’s boiled rice and went “eeeuh!” about her fried eel. ITV can only hope temperatures rise further as celebs at last line up for the chop.

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