I’m ready for my close- up, Mr DeMille

I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here 7.30pm, UKTV

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

A CELEBRITY? Apart from Ja­son Dono­van and Liza Minnelli’s ex­hus­band David Gest, we’ll have to take their word for it.

The celebs in a re­al­ity show tend to have the dimmest aura of fame, so once it’s ex­ported over­seas you have Buck­ley’s of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Never mind be­cause I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here has fame enough. Through the years this Bri­tish show, a fu­sion of Celebrity Big Brother and Sur­vivor, has gen­er­ated much dis­cussed mo­ments such as for­mer Sex Pis­tols singer John Ly­don walk­ing out and Aus­tralian singer Peter An­dre hook­ing up with glam­our model Jor­dan, cre­at­ing a sort of down- mar­ket Posh and Becks. OK, more down- mar­ket.

Be­sides, all seven se­ries were filmed in Queens­land and it would be nice to know what the Bri­tish have been up to be­hind our backs all this time. Re­mem­ber Mar­alinga?

Other con­tes­tants you may have heard of in­clude Foot­ballers’ Wives ’ Phina Oruche and Cherie Blair’s half­sis­ter, jour­nal­ist Lauren Booth. But it’s enough to know that th­ese are pam­pered peo­ple who will be tor­tured us­ing creepy Aus­tralian wildlife.

UKTV is start­ing at sea­son six, which aired in Bri­tain last year, and as such the viewer’s knowl­edge of the show’s struc­ture is as­sumed. That it takes a looser, Big Brother approach rather than the tight for­mat of Sur­vivor doesn’t pro­mote clar­ity, ei­ther. Ba­si­cally, af­ter episode one, view­ers in Bri­tain voted to de­cide which celebrity would par­tic­i­pate in a Fear Fac­tor style chal­lenge that de­ter­mined how many serv­ings of din­ner the camp re­ceived that night.

The rest of the show is de­voted to camp life. Later in the se­ries view­ers vote off the con­tes­tants.

Go­ing some way to com­pen­sate for the slack pac­ing is the quick- wit­ted snark of hosts Ant and Dec, who were also the hosts of Pop Idol, the show that launched the var­i­ous Idol s across the world.

Also ap­peal­ing, as in any good celeb- re­al­ity show, is a chance to see what the fa­mous are like when they aren’t re­hearsed, some­times with sur­pris­ing re­sults. For in­stance, when he’s not be­ing a big sook, Gest seems fun, pro­vided you can stop star­ing at those eye­brows. And poor Dono­van. I must con­fess a soft spot for Jase — he was burned by fame and prob­a­bly de­serves a bet­ter ca­reer than he has — and see­ing him lumped in with th­ese C- graders is hor­ri­fy­ing.

How­ever, his sweet if in­tense per­sona is so easy to watch, his screen time is en­joy­able. Be­sides, he demon­strates a sly comic tim­ing that some cast­ing di­rec­tor needs to har­ness, such as when he bungees off a he­li­copter: ‘‘ It’s amaz­ing.’’ Pause. ‘‘ Hurts your balls a bit, though.’’ Maybe that’s enough to get him out of things such as this.

Ker­rie Mur­phy

Tim­ing: Ja­son Dono­van is one of the best things about I’ma Celebrity . . .

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