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Ant and Dec said it was 'incredibly difficult' having Matt Hancock on I'm A Celebrity

Ant and Dec said it was 'incredibly difficult' having Matt Hancock on I'm A Celebrity

It was awkward for Ant and Dec too, guys.

When Matt Hancock arrived in the I'm A Celeb jungle last year, both campmates and viewers at home were understandably horrified.

After the trauma and devastation that was brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, the last person viewers wanted to see on their TV screens was the disgraced former health secretary goofing around and singing Ed Sheeran songs.

Well, it turns out it wasn't exactly an easy ride for presenters Ant and Dec, either.

Ahead of the new season of Saturday Night Takeaway, the Newcastle natives have opened up about what it was like to work with Matt in the jungle.

The pair admitted that it was 'very difficult' to have Hancock, a serving MP, on the reality series, but they had to remain impartial for their jobs.

"I think it’s very difficult not to [feel that way]," Dec told Huffington Post.

"We were all affected by decisions that he made and situations he created, so it was very, very difficult.

"But we tried incredibly hard to be impartial and to put that to one side. And I hope we did it."

Ant agreed that all of the celebrities that sign up to take on the jungle usually come with some form of 'baggage', but it's essential that he and Dec treat them all equally.

"It doesn't matter who you are," he explained.

"Boy George did. Matt Hancock did. Probably all of the campmates [last] year came with a history.

Ant and Dec found Matt Hancock's I'm A Celeb appearance just as hard as you did.
See Li / Alamy Stock Photo

"But once they’re in there, they’re campmates, so we have to treat them like campmates, and let them tell their stories."

He added: "We tried to be as far and as even as possible to all of them."

Within the first week that Matt Hancock appeared on I'm A Celeb, TV watchdog Ofcom received around 1,100 complaints about him.

In total, the ITV series had earned 1,968 complaints that week, with 1,100 of those being about Matt Hancock.

Ofcom revealed that, while many viewers were furious that he had even made it to the jungle in the first place, others had expressed concern about how he is being treated by his campmates.

Commenting on the Hancock complaints at the time, Ofcom said in a statement: "It’s worth being aware that under our rules, in principle - and taking into account freedom of expression - there's no ban on any particular person taking part in programmes.

"However, if the mere presence of a person is likely to cause offence, we would expect broadcasters to take steps to mitigate or justify that offence. How they do that editorially, is up to them."

Matt Hancock's jungle appearance was not appreciated by viewers at home.

A petition had also been set up by bereaved families of people who died from Covid-19 to get Matt Hancock booted from the I'm A Celeb set.

"Matt Hancock isn’t a ‘celebrity’, he’s the health secretary who oversaw the UK having one of the highest death tolls in the world from Covid-19 whilst breaking his own lockdown rules," the petition had read.

“The fact that he is trying to cash in on his terrible legacy, rather than showing some humility or seeking to reflect on the appalling consequences of his time in Government says it all about the sort of his person he is.

"Families were ripped apart by Matt Hancock’s actions, and turning on the TV to see him being paraded around as a joke is sickening."

In the end, the petition wound up with over 45,000 signatures, but it wasn't enough to drop him from the series, and the former health secretary wound up coming in third place.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: Ant and Dec, Ant McPartlin, Declan Donnelly, Matt Hancock, TV and Film