Nadine Dorries sidled back into view last night on ‘I’m Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here.’ The show is a parody of transportation. A gang of well-known show-offs are rounded up and removed to Australia where they endure privation and meagre living. They wear prison uniforms with serial numbers stencilled on the back. Phones and other luxuries are banned. So are script-writers. Everyone is wired for sound and the producers are desperate to broadcast anything approaching a witticism.

‘Slike a bleedin Bon movie, I’m tellin you,’ said Brian Conley as the contestants were ferried by helicopter into the bush.

Their corner of the Outback looked like a Hampstead Heath beauty spot prepared for a hippy wedding. Pretty lanterns burned brightly around a well-swept clearing. A canopy of trees provided shelter and a sense of comfort. ‘This is so nice,’ gushed Hugo Taylor, an effeminate toff recruited to annoy Nadine. ‘It’s so nice here!’ The celebrities dined on ‘wallaby shank’ which Conley described as a ‘gastronomic orgasm’. They passed the night in thick waterproof sleeping bags. It was obvious even to viewers at home that Ant and Dec’s TV studio, with its droves technical staff, lies about fifty yards from where the celebs are ‘stranded.’ The jungle is a television set.

To make their captivity watchable, the exiles are obliged to perform humiliating tasks. Nadine’s group was asked to nominate a candidate for an ordeal and she volunteered Hugo by praising his courage. A neat move. Nadine is a clearly a veteran of committee-room politics. Hugo had to place his ungloved hands into caskets teeming with bugs, rats and lizards. Later he took his revenge. Nadine and Co were asked to scull a boat across a creek. ‘I don’t know a huge amount about rowing,’ she said, taking charge, ‘but I do know that the oars need to go into the water at the same time.’ In the cox’s position, she steered the vessel in forlorn circles for a bit. Then it sank. Eric Bristow, a former darts champion, clambered from the lily-strewn water and shook himself off like a drenched spaniel. ‘Underneaf there was just like all swampy stuff,’ he said.

After he’d dried out, he told Nadine he never voted. ‘Why not?’ she asked. ‘You’re all liars.’ Hugo retreated to the diary room where contestants are encouraged to weep, bitch, curse and assassinate their rivals. He did all four. ‘I try not to be too judgmental but if Nadine was my member of parliament I’d expect her to be at work.’

Nadine doesn’t shine. She hasn’t grasped the show’s essence: ‘I’m A Celebrity … Get Me In Shot’. Good contestants throw tantrums, pick fights and make a spectacle of themselves. Nadine is withdrawn, calculating and watchful. A single image summed up her performance. She sat staring listlessly into a half-eaten platter of grey rice and said she didn’t want to eat anything. No one was near her.

Last night’s star was Helen Flanagan, a busty young actress with lovely eyes and verbal diarrhea, who had a crowd-pleasing panic attack while crossing a bridge in a climbing harness. Later, she claimed to have been bitten in the face by a rat. She’ll probably win.

The show built towards its climactic ordeal – Bug Burial – which involves the incarceration of a celebrity in a coffin full of spiders. The victim was to be selected by telephone plebiscite. Nadine came top of the poll. She received the news as dawn broke over their picnic area. ‘That’s OK. I kind of expected it,’ she said. Her handsome, pleasant and faintly obdurate features revealed nothing. ‘Bug Burial,’ she murmured, ‘what does that mean?’ No one answered her. One team member leapt up and gave her a consoling hug. It was Hugo.

She’ll be buried tonight.

Tags: Media, Nadine Dorries, Television