I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! has welcomed in a host of famous faces this year, including Britney Spears’ sister Jamie Lynn Spears, This Morning presenter Josie Gibson and even former UKIP leader Nigel Farage. However, probably the most engaging campmate by far has turned out to be none other than self-professed super-fan Sam Thompson.
When rumours began flying that GB News host Nigel would be joining this year’s I’m A Celeb line-up, there was a huge outcry, with several high-profile stars vowing to boycott the programme entirely. However, despite the huge amount of attention Nigel’s jungle stint initially received, the political figure might be disappointed to discover that he has not, in fact, been the show’s central character.
Even in comparison to last year, when ITV sparked a major backlash by casting former Health Secretary Matt Hancock, there hasn’t been nearly as much of a furore since Nigel touched down in Australia. Even show presenters Ant and Dec seem a tad bored with the show’s recruitment of politicians in recent years.
During an Instagram livestream with fans last weekend, the pair were asked by one of their five million followers whether Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had the makings of a potential future campmate. “I think we do a year without any politicians,” Dec responded cheekily, while Ant added: “Agreed, agreed, agreed.”
Nigel has also previously mentioned that he wants as much air time as possible with the hopes of reaching a younger audience. But is that really what I’m A Celebrity is all about?
One star who has fully embraced everything that the I’m A Celeb experience has thrown at them is former Made In Chelsea star Sam.
His unrelenting enthusiasm, positivity and genuine excitement at being in the jungle have made him a frontrunner for the crown – and rightly so.
According to Ladbrokes, the Hits Radio host’s odds of being crowned King of the Jungle stand at just 1/2.
While Sam has received an overwhelming amount of support online, some fans have questioned whether his larger-than-life personality might be “an act”.
However, having met Sam and spoken to him at length shortly before he was announced as a campmate this year, I can confirm that the star is exactly as he appears on screen.
Furthermore, other celebrities that I have interviewed have given glowing reports of their time working with him, with phrases like “golden retriever energy” and “the nicest bloke” often being thrown around.
Enduringly optimistic, but also humble, Sam has been a source of joy for those around him in camp – and the fact that those leaving the jungle have backed him as the winner says it all.
When I spoke to Sam last month, he told me: “I’ve got to say, if I were to be signed up for anything like I’m A Celeb, I’d just feel incredibly lucky and fortunate to be there, because I never really thought I’d be able to get there.
“So yeah, it would be an amazing experience,” he added with a cheeky smile, “If I were to be doing it.”
Apart from charming viewers with his boyish antics and good-natured banter with former boxer Tony Bellew, Sam has also shown himself to be a fantastic ambassador for the neurodivergent community.
Earlier this year, Sam documented his journey of being assessed and diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in the Channel 4 programme Sam Thompson: Is This ADHD?
The star has gone on to open up about his ADHD diagnosis with his campmates during the show, helping to raise awareness for the condition.
Sam’s girlfriend Zara McDermott, who was eliminated from Strictly Come Dancing six weeks ago, appeared on This Morning recently to discuss how “proud” she was of him for talking about his diagnosis.
She said: “I think seeing him open up about his ADHD has made everyone, especially all of his family and me, just so proud.”
Speaking with Express.co.uk about his ADHD diagnosis, Sam said: “I find myself getting worked up about some things that other people who don’t have ADHD might not get [worked up over]. I think ‘that’s such an odd thing to get worked up about’, but I do…”
He continued: “And then to be able to sit there and be like, ‘Hey, man, you’re okay. It’s a medical thing that’s going on in your brain…’ I think even just knowing that is some really awesome sort of…self-loving information, really.”
All this said, surely Sam is a more worthy winner than ex-UKIP leader Nigel… But that’s one for the public to decide!
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! continues tonight at 9pm on ITV.