It used to be simple for reality shows like I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here: Get the contestants fighting, and the ratings would take care of themselves.
As the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said: ‘No conflict, no drama.’
We can’t imagine George would have been much of an I’m A Celeb fan, but he was right. Most years, we can’t get enough confrontation and cattiness around the campfire on the show. It’s part of what has made it one of the most compelling reality series of the past two decades.
2020, though, is no ordinary year.
The new-look Welsh camp has played host to the cosiest, chummiest run in its history, and it’s something we were all crying out for, whether we realised it or not.
With the constant barrage of bad news over the past 12 months, the last thing the viewing public needed was more controversy. More people than ever have tuned in every night to watch as the camp has smiled, cried and laughed their way towards the finish line.
It’s transcended normal TV viewing in extraordinary times. Over the last three weeks, viewers have lived vicariously through the campmates, who seemed to bond more quickly than any group we’d seen before.
Viewers travelled, went sightseeing, got pissed as a fart and sang karaoke through the eyes of soap stars, Olympic legends and Family Fortunes hosts – some of which have become overnight national treasures and unlikely role models.
We’ve also had the kind of gossip that had WhatsApp groups around the country popping off (Megashag we’re looking at you) and the comfort of a 9pm catchup with them every single day.
The biggest moment of drama on-screen came when Shane Richie and AJ Pritchard had a slight disagreement over the washing up. There have been Ofcom complaints over animal welfare too, but the most telling moment actually came in the editing suite.
According to The Sun, producers cut an argument between Vernon Kay and Ruthie Henshall that could have changed the focus of the entire series.
It’s as if they’ve weighed up the collective mood of the nation and realised they don’t want to see fractious relationships, or the usual divisions and politics within camp.
And I, for one, am grateful for it.
There are still detractors who have criticised the series’ friendly feel. Piers Morgan is chief among them, who announced he isn’t a fan of the ‘people pleasing’ stars in camp. A fair point perhaps, but after the year they’ve had, don’t the people deserve pleasing?
Just like the Great British Bake Off, the show jumped through all the right Covid-19 hoops, pulling off one of the slickest relocations we’ve ever seen after it moved to Gwrych Castle. They didn’t need to do it. They could have postponed until next Christmas and no-one would have blamed them.
But thank goodness they did. It’s the TV we all needed after a year that has felt like the longest, grimmest Bushtucker trial imaginable.
Of course, what we really want is to see our loved ones after a difficult time for us all.
But when that’s not possible, watching a group of diverse characters getting to know each other so intimately and becoming friends for life is the next best thing.
I’m A Celebrity continues tonight at 9pm on ITV.
Credit: Original article published here.