Matt Hancock surprised his colleagues in government, the British public, and Channel 4 producers when he announced that he was joining the ITV reality survival series I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!
Shortly after the announcement, he lost the whip, meaning that he would have to sit in Parliament as an independent MP when he returns from the jungle. It also means that he may not be able to run as a Conservative at the next election, meaning that he would be likely to lose his seat.
But Matt’s got plenty of pans in the fire - he has a new book about his time as Health Secretary coming out in December, and he’ll appear on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins next year (Channel 4 producers were reportedly not happy that he had flitted off to Australia for ITV shortly after filming wrapped).
Hancock did surprisingly well on I’m A Celebrity, reaching the final and coming third overall, behind Owen Warner and winner Lioness Jill Scott. Perhaps reality TV is the MP’s path back into public favour after his gaffes in government. If so, here are five other reality shows Hancock should consider taking part in to win his way back into the public’s hearts.
Strictly Come Dancing
Given that Ed Balls, Ed Miliband’s shadow chancellor who narrowly lost his seat at the 2015 election, was able to resuscitate his career after dancing to Gangnam Style on the Strictly ballroom, there may be hope for Hancock.
Despite occupying the lower end of the leaderboard, during his stint on the competition, Balls was able to survive until Week 10 so there's hope for politicians like Hancock trying their hand on the Strictly dance floor, and he could even outdo his political rival.
Celebrity Ex on the Beach
This seems like an appropriate show for the politician, given his relationship history - and it would make for great telly. The format of the show sees celebs head to some exotic location to explore new relationships when they are rudely interrupted by their exes.
Imagine Hancock and his partner Gina Colangelo - who, you’ll remember, he was caught on CCTV snogging and holding very tenderly during the Covid pandemic - jetting off for a beach holiday, only to be blindsided by his wife and the mother of his children.
The Masked Singer
Matt Hancock just loves music, but good God, don’t get him singing. During his time in the jungle he bonded with campmate Seann Walsh over their shared love of Ed Sheeran before launching into an entirely unasked for rendition of Perfect.
I can think of no-one better to take their musical talents to the stage whilst dressed in some wacky getup. And no-one would guess that it was Hancock behind the mask, because what self-respecting politician would run off to join a reality show during an unprecedented time of national economic challenge when they were supposed to be representing their constituents? It just wouldn’t happen!
Drink Masters is supposed to feature professional mixologists. But the former health secretary knows all about handling pressure and has become accustomed to throwing himself into new challenges at the drop of a hat, as seen from his I'm a Celeb appearance, so I’m sure it’s something he could turn his hand to.
What could really give Hancock a leg-up in the cocktail challenge competition is his former neighbour and pub landlord Alex Bourne, whose company was awarded a £40 million NHS Test and Trace contract last year.
Make Me Prime Minister
Perhaps the most obvious choice for Hancock - Make Me Prime Minister debuted this year and was hosted by Alistair Campbell and Baroness Warsi as they searched for the UK’s alternative Prime Minister.
After eating a camel’s penis (and sheep’s vagina) on television - and having the whip removed for his trouble - it’s likely that this show is the closest Hancock is ever going to get to Number 10. Then again, Boris Johnson still managed to bag the top job, so maybe we will see Matt back on our screens in the future addressing the nation from the front benches of the House of Commons.