Has there ever been a more exciting television event than the big reveal of who the contestants are on I'm A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here? Possibly! Who knows? We watch so much TV our memories have been utterly destroyed!
In any case, as the season premiere began, with shots of the beautiful African wildlife that will at no point be anywhere near any of the celebrities, excitement is at fever pitch – who will be the intrepid adventurers willing to experience mild discomfort for the ultimate prize of a small boost in public recognition and also money?
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Trailer: I'm A Celebrity... Warnie lands
Shane Warne is set to shake up season two as the camp's leader.
The first shock comes when comedian Akmal Saleh shows up, stunning everyone by being exactly who they expected it to be. He was followed by Bonnie Lythgoe, who you'll remember from So You Think You Can Dance Australia, assuming you can remember So You Think You Can Dance Australia. Akmal and Bonnie meet and chat with all the relaxed ease of two death-row prisoners swapping last meal recipes.
Next to show up: pop star Anthony Callea, appearing on the scene with the confidence borne of being far more famous than anyone else there. He is followed by champion ironwoman Courtney Hancock, embarrassing Anthony, who doesn't know who she is because of his shameful neglect of elite women's sport. And finally, Paul "The Chief" Harragon, rugby league legend, who is there to ensure the group's average height nudges above five feet.
Of course, it's not actually "finally", but after the first five, hosts Julia Morris and Chris Brown show up and do some banter to amuse the crew, who do a rather feeble impression of a laugh track. The separation of the introductions is a pretty canny move, since it keeps the sixty percent of the audience who won't watch a second of the show after finding out who the cast is watching for a bit longer. After a quick break to hear about Bonnie's terror of sharing toilets, we get to meet some more celebrities.
Here comes Jo Beth Taylor, telling us that we may know her from Funniest Home Videos, or Hey Hey It's Saturday, or the stories our grandparents told around the fire. After Jo Beth is Bea Smith the fearsome Top Dog from Wentworth Detention Centre, for some reason pretending to be someone called "Val": possibly disguising her identity after escaping. Bea is followed by Brendan Fevola, former footballer and amateur photographer. And then it's Havana Brown, who is famous for knowing how to play records. After that bombshell, it's time for even more star power with the arrival of Dean Geyer, who was on Australian Idol, then Neighbours, then Glee, then Terra Nova, and frankly doesn't seem able to hold down a steady job. And finally Laurina Fleur, who rose to fame as an unlikeable woman who didn't want to eat a pie. These six will not meet the first five yet, because the show needs to give us some pointless event to look forward to. We learn that Jo Beth hates snoring, Brendan is lazy and Laurina is unpleasant.
While the first five jump out of a helicopter, the second six will be paddling canoes. These are dangerous activities, and like all of us, Chris and Julia find the possibility of their horrible deaths incredibly amusing. Sadly, it proves much less dangerous than we thought, and there is a palpable lack of tension throughout – whether this is because of the mildness of the challenges themselves, or just because care very little about the protagonists' welfare, who can say? Anyway they paddle about and they jump out of the helicopter and Anthony Callea, who in leaping from the chopper faced his lifelong fear of doing recklessly stupid things, warms all of our hearts with his courage and moans of fear.
All the celebrities are on dry land and so it is time for them to stick their faces into some worms. The first Tucker Trial, in which celebrities must nuzzle various invertebrates in an attempt to be fed, is as exciting as a collection of reasonably well-known people willingly undergoing ritual public humiliation can be. It results in one team getting food and the other team being dropped in a trough full of offal and fish guts. So in a way, both teams got food, if they're open-minded enough. And then it's off to camp for some underpants-burning and everyone assuring us that they are "out of their comfort zone". If you were under the impression that the jungle was the celebrities' comfort zone, think again: they're out of it, baby. You can tell by how long they spend talking about the toilet. And even more so, by how much footage of them talking about the toilet the producers put to air.
But of course the moment we've all been waiting for is when we finally find out that the twelfth celebrity, who we all knew was going to be Shane Warne, turns out to be Shane Warne. And it is. And what an incredible viewing experience it is to see Shane Warne on TV finally.
In the end, the premiere answered our questions about who the celebrities were, but raised a whole bunch of new ones. Like: is anyone interested in what the celebrities actually do? How long until discussing the toilet becomes a bit dull? Will Shane Warne donate his appearance fee to the people his foundation was supposed to be donating money to? Who will win? Who will chicken out? Who will post the most smug social media updates claiming they don't know who any of the celebrities are as if this is a cause for inestimable pride rather than a sign of their own woeful ignorance?
It's all ahead of us, people.