Nigel Farage has reportedly given up drinking ahead of his rumoured appearance on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! as the former Ukip leader was pictured at Heathrow airport on Saturday (11 November) night.
The right-wing politician is among the celebrities reportedly preparing to swap their home comforts for uncomfy beds, rice and beans (if they’re lucky) and gruesome challenges as they appear on ITV’s long-running reality show.
Also on the rumoured lineup for the series, which returns on Sunday 19 November with Ant and Dec as hosts, are Britney Spears’s sister Jamie Lynn Spears, This Morning’s Josie Gibson, First Dates favourite Fred Sirieix and TikTok star Nella Rose. You can find the full reported cast list here.
On Saturday (11 November), Farage became the first celebrity to appear to confirm their place on the show as he was photographed at London’s Heathrow airport to begin his journey Down Under. According to reports, Farage signed a deal worth “up to £1m” to appear on the show.
In pictures obtained by The Daily Mail, Farage was photographed wearing beige chinos, a blue shirt, and a pink blazer with a poppy on his lapel, as he carried his black bag through the airport.
Before his reported flight to Australia, Farage took photos with other passengers and was seen having a cigarette in the airport’s smoking area.
According to reports, Farage’s smoking habit was nearly a sticking point in his appearance on the show, as celebrities are famously not allowed to smoke while appearing in the jungle.
Farage reportedly nearly rejected a spot on I’m a Celebrity due to the ban on smoking. So keen were ITV bosses to get him involved, they are said to have considered changing the rule if it meant having him on the show.
Speaking on the Paper Cuts podcast, political journalist Ava Evans said: “Would you like some insider knowledge of why Nigel Farage was considering not doing it? It is the smoking ban. You can’t smoke and he is a very heavy smoker.”
“So will they let him smoke out the back?” host Miranda Sawyer asked, with Evans replying that she believed this was “being negotiated”. A similar discussion reportedly took place last year for radio presenter Chris Moyles, who is also a heavy smoker.
Farage also was seen ordering a drink at the airport’s pub, The Queen’s Arms. However, the former member of the European parliament may not have gone for a pint, as he has been swapping his usual beer for orange juice and ginger beer in preparation for jungle life, The Sun reports.
The Independent has contacted Farage’s representatives and ITV for comment.
While Farage’s place in the jungle has not been confirmed, the politician recently revealed that he has previously been offered “quite a substantial sum of money” to take part.
Hosting his GB News show on 30 October, Farage said that he’d been asked to appear on I’m a Celebrity multiple times, adding: “They’ve always offered me really quite substantial sums of money to do so” before saying that he was “seriously considering” the offer.
Farage, who was a prominent figure in the referendum campaign to leave the EU, is likely hoping to follow in the footsteps of Tory politician Matt Hancock, who appeared on the show last year.
While his fellow campmates were initially sceptical of the former health secretary and grilled him on his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic – with viewers voting for him to take part in many bushtucker trials – Hancock ended up making it to the final and finished third on the show. He was paid £320,000 for his appearance on the show.
I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! returns Sunday 19 November on ITV.