Five ‘cringy’ times politicians went on reality TV and hilarity ensued

Splash: Penny Mordaunt belly flops as she tries to dive in 2014

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The former health minister, Matt Hancock, has become the 12th contestant entering the I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! Jungle on Sunday, November 6, as he joins the likes of former rugby captain and Princess Anne’s son-in-law, Mike Tindall, in the famous Jungle. However, he has come under fire for his decision to appear on the hit show – he has had the Conservative chief whip removed and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson told the BBC that “MPs should be working hard for their constituents, whether that is in the House or in their constituency”. Mr Hancock is not the first politician to give up voting and debating for Bushtucker trials or ballroom dancing. takes a look at who has wandered into a land often as unforgiving as politics: reality TV.

Boris Johnson’s father and former politician, Stanley Johnson, himself ventured Down Under, appearing in the seventeenth series of I’m a Celebrity in 2017 and was the seventh campmate to be eliminated. 

The former MEP for Wight and Hampshire East was the oldest campmate to enter the jungle at the age of 77 and he picked up many new fans along the way, not only from the general public but from the celebrities themselves too. Ex-Made in Chelsea star Georgia Toffolo, who was Queen of the Jungle that year, told how she was “completely enamoured by him”. 

Mr Johnson has now voiced his support of Mr Hancock’s move to enter himself, predicting in an interview with ITV news that the public would “respond well” to the former Minister who was forced to resign last year after he broke lockdown rules by kissing a colleague. 

Another well-known politician, also close to the former Prime Minister Mr Johnson, similarly landed herself in hot water after she appeared in the Jungle. Former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries entered I’m a Celebrity in 2012. 

Although she was voted out after just 12 days in the camp, she made her mark by famously eating an ostrich’s anus and a camel’s toe. 

The Conservative MP later “fully and unreservedly” apologised to the Commons after she failed to declare the £82,000 profit she made from ITV after appearing on the show. 

Prior to this and just like her fellow Conservative MP, Mr Hancock, Ms Dorries had the Conservative whip removed temporarily because she did not inform them of her decision to venture to Australia for the hit show. 

But not all politicians have chosen I’m a Celebrity as their reality TV show of choice, Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt appeared on another ITV show called Splash.

In 2014, the Conservative MP, who ran against Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to become the next Prime Minister in the summer, competed against the likes of reality TV star Gemma Collins on the show.

But during her campaign this year, a video of Ms Mordaunt bellyflopping into the pool during the competition resurfaced on social media which left her in “agony” and turned her legs “blue”, according to fellow MP Bob Stewart. 

She was the ninth celebrity to be kicked out of the show, but her diving debut saw her raise money for a charity in her constituency of Portsmouth North in Hampshire as she donated her fee to the Hilsea Lido in the waterfront city. 

Speaking to the Press Association before appearing on the swimming show that year, she said it was a “great personal development experience” and a “perfect way to fundraise for a charity she was very passionate about”. 

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Ed Balls similarly sought a personal development experience but did so by taking to the famous Strictly Come Dancing ballroom in 2016. The former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer appeared on the hit show alongside Katya Jones, who is partnered with ex-footballer Tony Adams this year. 

Despite his footwork leaving much to be desired, the former Labour MP was popular with viewers as a BBC insider revealed he would receive most of the votes from the public despite receiving low scores from the judges.  

He left the competition after ten weeks when he lost the dance-off to Robert Rinder – also known as Judge Rinder. However, his performance to the hit song Gangnam Style has gone down in Strictly history with it being hailed a “national moment” by the then BBC Director General, Lord Tony Hall. 

Leader of the Workers Party of Britain George Galloway similarly had a now famous moment when he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2006.  

The former MP had to pretend to be a “pussycat”, licking the air and drinking milk from actress Rula Lenska’s hands. It was voted the “cringiest” reality TV moment of all time, according to a Buzz Bingo survey last year.
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