If £350m was the iconic figure of the Brexit referendum, 25% is the one dominating Nigel Farage’s time in the I’m A Celebrity jungle. It’s the entirely arbitrary amount of extra airtime the former Ukip leader has decided comes with performing Bushtucker Trials and he wants in. He is determined to return to national prominence, has settled on doing it via ritual humiliation, and for some reason has opted for a series of Antipodean grub-based trials rather than, say, standing in the likely forthcoming Welling by-election. He is about to get what he wants.
The Daily Express today reports on Farage “allies” claiming ITV is pulling “dirty tricks” by not giving Farage enough airtime (ITV, not unreasonably, says it is impossible to condense everything 12 people do 24 hours a day into a 75-minute programme with adverts). But when Farage does get on, it’s not entirely clear he’s using his time wisely. Take last night, for example. Having declared he was going in to speak to young people, when he did chat to one – fellow contestant and 26-year-old YouTuber Nella Rose – it was, er, on which ethnicities white people should be allowed to dress up as.
With the campmates for some reason discussing the Jamaican patois for water, Farage told First Dates’ Fred Sirieix: “If you said that they’d call it cultural appropriation, Fred. It’s when suits.” Pressed on what he meant by Rose (who is black), Farage said: “If a white person does a black accent, that’s considered to be a crime and they should be cancelled. It’s rather like, you go to a fancy dress party dressed as something, now the press will say it’s cultural appropriation.”
“Like what?,” asked Rose. “Oh, dress as a Mexican or whatever,” said Farage. “You can’t use somebody’s culture as a fancy dress,” responded Rose. “The Mexican outfit is tradition to them, that’s been in their culture for decades.” (Some historians think it may be even longer.) “I don’t know what the rules are now,” responded Farage, who may as well have shaken his fist at a passing cloud.
Still, even Farage appeared to recognise when he’d upset someone, so when Rose was later visibly distressed at being chosen to do the next trial, he went to comfort her in his own unique way. “One thing for certain, Nella – you’re going to be in the jungle a lot longer than you thought. Because every trial that you do, it’s 25% of each programme. I’m jealous, I want to be doing it.”
His time will come. At the end of the show it was revealed both he and Tony from Hollyoaks will be doing the next trial. Tony will be ok – in 28 years in his fictional village he has survived cancer, blindness, being forced to play Russian roulette in Morocco, being kidnapped and held on a pig farm and a murder attempt by his own father via a poisoned mince pie. Farage has lost seven elections. Still, that 25%.