Nigel Farage has admitted he was shocked not to be picked for the second bush tucker trial - and wants to do more challenges because you get "25% of the airtime".
Nella Rose was picked by the public for the trial and Farage was shown in camp saying: "I was ready to do the trial. And so the fact that it didn't come came as a bit of a shock to me in an odd sort of way. Like this is a bit funny." He then told food critic Grace Dent : "Y'see if you do the challenges it is 25% of the airtime. I'm looking to reach a new audience, sorry to be cynical."
Grace said: "I am absolutely good just being a little ray of sparkle in the back of this television show." Ant and Dec also gave Farage and his GB News show more abuse. Dec said: "After some of our comments over the last few days GB News have been in touch and they have asked us to make clear that Keith and Linda are not their only viewers. We're happy to clear that up. And of course they are absolutely right."
Ant added: "Absolutely right. Sometimes the dog wanders in." It comes after I'm A Celebrity bosses as said to be facing a crisis as viewers boycott the show over Farage's participation. The ITV reality series premiered on Sunday evening to an audience of seven million, a fall of two million from its opening show last year.
While the exact reason for these lower ratings isn't clear, the slump has likely been influenced by the public's opposition to Farage being in its line-up. Having previously turned down the opportunity to star on the show, Farage ended up agreeing to appear on this year's series after reportedly receiving an offer of £1.5million.
Yet many are not impressed with the founder of UKIP and its spin-off Brexit Party appearing on the show. Best For Britain, an action group tackling issues we face post-Brexit, said in a statement on its website: "ITV is building the profile of a man whose only claim to fame is stoking divisions. The decision to pay Nigel Farage £1.5m is incompatible with ITV’s values. It’s time to ask Ant & Dec if they’re comfortable presenting a programme promoting this man, and to pledge not to watch until Farage is ruled out."
Reports also suggest a team around Farage hope to spark an upset and crown him king of the jungle using a secret voting plan. Farage managed to win the News Presenter Of The Year gong at the TRIC awards in June, beating Susanna Reid, Eamonn Holmes and Piers Morgan. He did so after he posted a large number of social media messages and was allowed to ask for votes on GB News regularly.
It is thought he could be trying similar tactics Down Under as a TV source told The Mirror: "Farage's team are very clever when it comes to these types of things, they can really galvanize his support. The people that do support Farage and his ideas are very passionate and some are very rich. It would be no surprise to see him do well, especially after what happened at the Tric Awards, even he doesn't believe he is the best news presenter on TV."
An ITV show spokesperson said "Voting on I'm A Celebrity is rigorously monitored and the results announced are as voted for by viewers via the app and phone. ITV voting is audited as required by the Phone Services Authority."
While a spokesman for Farage said: "Nigel is more popular than many would have you believe. Like the other IAC contestants, Nigel has built a large following on social media over the years. He also had 5.2m different voters from right across the country at the election in 2019. And as we can see from the first few trials, Nigel is already beginning to win over a new audience who can see a different side to him."
Farage has also been ruled out of some Bushtucker Trials on medical grounds. He said: "Given millions hate me, I do expect people will vote for me to do trials! I am hoping those who hate me might hate me a little bit less afterwards. But it's a gamble. If we can dispel some of those misconceptions, then that will be a good thing too."
It was claimed that due to an accident back in 2010 that saw Farage injured in a plane crash, the star would not be able to complete certain trials. He said would have to avoid "anything involving weightlifting."