The I’m A Celebrity line-up has been revealed, and there’s one person people aren’t happy about: Nigel Farage.
It's been reported that the former UKIP leader will make an enormous £1.5m from the appearance – the highest any person has ever been paid to appear on the show. This is far more than Noel Edmond’s £600,000, which he received in 2022. Farage, who was spotted this week landing in Australia ahead of the show, recently said he was ‘seriously considering’ the series after being offered ‘really quite substantial sums of money’ to sign up.
Given Farage's controversial political career, fans are now threatening to boycott the show over his inclusion. A campaign launched by Best for Britain has already prompted more than 1,000 people to write complaints to Ant and Dec, who are currently in Australia ahead of filming and further celebrity arrivals. The group insists that giving a 'divisive populist like Farage a nightly primetime platform is not good for our country.'
Meanwhile, social media is filled with people expressing outrage at Farage's inclusion on the show. One user wrote on X ‘I do find it icky that ITV gives a platform to Nigel Farage on I'm a Celebrity. OK, so they may be setting him up for a fall. But he gets a fee, it boosts his profile and it's an endorsement of him as a public figure. Whole thing is problematic. #imacelebrity.’ Another agreed, writing ‘Nope. You are giving a platform to Nigel Farage. I will not be watching and I’ll be urging everyone to boycott the show, the sponsor and the presenters.’
ITV has now responded to the backlash, writing in a statement 'I'm A Celebrity has always featured a diverse cast from all areas of public life and has a history of featuring political figures throughout its 20 years on screen. As with any camp mate, viewers are invited to form their own opinions when the show begins on Sunday.'
But it's one thing to cast a divisive figure like Matt Hancock - who took part in last year's series - and another thing to cast someone who has made an array of racist, sexist and xenophobic comments in the past. In 2019, Farage criticised for 'dog-whistle' racism by Angela Rayner, while his justification of the gender pay gap sparked outrage in 2014. And let's not forget when he said there was a 'half black' person in his 2015 manifesto.
So while seeing the former Health Secretary pelted with feathers, drenched in slime and custard, and coming face to face with critters felt mildly satisfying, at least, giving a platform to Nigel Farage feels irresponsible, particularly at a time when political tensions are rising in the UK.
Here's a look back at some of Farage's most controversial moments...
The racial slur about Romanian people
In 2014, Farage said he would be concerned if Romanian immigrants moved in next door to him. In an interview with LBC, he said ‘I was asked if a group of Romanian men moved in next to you, would you be concerned? And if you lived in London, I think you would be.’
When pressed to apologise for the comments, Farage said 'If I gave the impression in that interview that I was discriminating against Romanians then I apologise certainly for that,' continuing 'I do not wish for people to feel in a discriminatory manner towards Romanians but I do say there is a very real problem here, that everybody else has run away from, brushed under the carpet, the whole organised crime element and the impact that has had on London and other parts of the country. That is a serious issue.'
His comments on the gender pay gap
During a 2014 Q&A on the European Union, Farage said that women were paid less because they were 'worth far less’ than men, insisting that thegender pay gap wasn’t a result of discrimination. ‘A woman who has a client base, has a child and takes two or three years off - she is worth far less to her employer when she comes back than when she went away because that client base won't be stuck as rigidly to her portfolio,’ he said.
His defence of xenophobic comments
When UKIP party candidate Kerry Smith was sacked for making derogatory remarks about Chinse people, Farage defended her. He stated at the time ‘If you and your mates were going out for a Chinese, what do you say you're going for?’ After declaring that he wouldn't use the word derogatory himself, he added ‘A lot would.’
His comments on breastfeeding
In 2014, Farage caused a backlash from mothers when he weighed in on breastfeeding in public. He suggested that women should 'sit in the corner' when they were feeding their babies. 'I think that given that some people feel very embarrassed by it, it isn’t too difficult to breastfeed a baby in a way that's not openly ostentatious,' he said. 'Or perhaps sit in the corner, or whatever it might be.'
Blaming immigrants for making him late
After being asked why he turned up late to an event in Wales, Farage placed the blame on immigrants. 'It took me six hours and 15 minutes to get here - it should have taken three-and-a-half to four,' he said. 'That has nothing to do with professionalism, what it does have to do with is a country in which the population is going through the roof chiefly because of open-door immigration and the fact that the M4 is not as navigable as it used to be.'