Biggins gives Nigel Farage advice on what to expect on Im A Celebrity

Coming from a background in ­politics and the City, Nigel Farage should be right at home among the snakes and creepy crawlies of the Australian jungle. Politicians tend to do well on I’m A Celebrity, no matter how much they might be disliked back in the real world – a case in point being former Health Secretary Matt Hancock last year.

There’s something about “villains” the general public warms to – especially when it comes to forcing them to take part in downright disgusting challenges for our entertainment. Ultimately, viewers might not want them to win… but they still enjoy torturing them on television every evening.

I think this goes right back to pantomime where the baddies are hated and loved simultaneously. Politicians score highly on most surveys into the people we really don’t like very much which makes them fabulous reality TV contestants.

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Because of all that, bagging Nigel is a huge coup for ITV – his recent run-in with Coutts Bank over his account being cancelled has helped his profile, and fee, enormously, I imagine – especially as they’re finding it harder these days to get people of real stature to take part.

If Suella Braverman had been sacked just a couple of weeks earlier, I think the producers would have been waving a very large cheque under her nose to sign her up.

Sadly by this time next year I fear she won’t have the right profile (though if you’re reading this Suella, call me, there’s a place in panto for you as the Wicked Queen).

But I am looking forward to Nigel being given all the most awful trials and tasks for the first few episodes. If it’s horrid, he’ll be voted to do it!

However, I know Nigel and I’m convinced he’ll go at them with a smile, positive attitude and a great deal of charm.

He’s a clever man and, after all, he’s reportedly being paid a whopping £1.5million, a show record, to take part so what’s not to smile about?

(When I did the show, I was paid £50,000, which seems rather paltry by comparison, although it did provide me with the ­downpayment on my lovely second home, and winning definitely opens doors to more work).

Like politics, reality TV is a game and Nigel knows how to play it. He’s charm personified, very lovable (yes, really), very bright and very amusing.

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These are all hugely important assets in the jungle when you’re living by your wits and not much else. As is getting on with your campmates.

Last year Matt Hancock was treated rather shabbily by his fellow contestants, and I’m sure this led to a slightly more ­sympathetic view from the public. Equally, if Nigel gets a lot of grief from this year’s campmates, that could ­help boost his popularity among viewers. No one really likes to see bullying on TV, even if it’s someone as politically divisive as Matt Hancock or Nigel Farage on the receiving end.

Given this, I think there’s every chance Nigel will win the doubters round.

They might not agree with his politics, but they might come to rather like the man himself. However, I don’t think he’ll win the contest.

Josie Gibson is definitely going to be Queen of the Jungle this year. She’s on This Morning so she’s got a ready-made fanbase and she has a fantastic personality too. She’s also a lovely young woman with a fabulous Bristolian accent.

She’s got everything going for her and, were I a gambling man, I’d be placing a large wager on her now! I’m A Celebrity really is the most extraordinary game. I loved every moment of my time on the show in 2007 alongside the likes of Janice Dickinson (awful),

Katie Hopkins (surprisingly lovely) and Cerys Matthews and Anna Ryder Richardson (both charming).

People still come up to me to talk about the challenges I completed. One in particular – where Anna Ryder Richardson and I spent the night in hammocks in an underground dungeon filled with 200 rats – seems to have delighted everyone.

I had to get up in the night to go to the toilet and, as I was weeing in the Portaloo, I suddenly saw 400 little rat eyes looking at me before they started running up my legs.

I scampered back to my hammock screaming! People love watching that and they like contestants who get on with it and play ball no matter how horrible.

The ones who moan and complain tend to get voted out pretty quickly in my experience.

One of the reasons people go on the show – apart from the dosh – is to reinvent themselves or reach a new audience among the young. I’m sure this will have been on Nigel’s mind. He’s obviously well-known among those of us of a certain age, but this gives him an opportunity to ­connect with millions of younger voters.

When people ask for my advice ahead of going on the show (Nigel didn’t), the best counsel I can give is to simply be yourself. It’s no good going in there and ­acting out a role. You forget who you are or what you’re doing and people see through you pretty quickly.

You have to be yourself and speak your mind as you’d normally talk to friends and family.

It’s harder than it might sound. We all ­have a tendency to censor ourselves ­and people worry about how they’re going to be perceived. But reality TV audiences can spot a fake immediately. Whether you’re outrageously flirty, overly friendly or cruelly conniving, viewers will see it.

For that reason, it’s crucial you cast aside any character you might be playing and just go in there to be yourself and try to enjoy it, whether you’re Christopher Biggins or ­Nigel Farage.

People will either take to you or they won’t. And I’m confident they will take to Nigel. He’s enormously good company and ITV will want to protect their not inconsiderable investment by making him look good ­on screen, at least for the first couple of weeks of the show.

However, they’ll want him to fall into some traps and they’ll be looking hard for his weaknesses so the show can exploit them.

After that it’s anyone’s guess ­and that underlines the importance of the editors. They wield the ­real power on shows like I’m a Celebrity… ­They can manipulate contestants and ­­viewers alike. You are completely in their hands, they can stitch you up or make you look like the best thing since sliced bread.

I went back a year after my own victory to make a documentary and it was fascinating to see how everything revolves around the editing. So watch out!

The worst thing about I’m A Celebrity… ­or, indeed, any reality TV, is the boredom. The other 23 hours a day they don’t show.

The jungle is especially difficult because you’re not allowed any entertainment. You can’t read or write, there’s no TV.

All you have are your campmates. So ­do try and get on if you can! Even if you ­suspect they might be the most boring ­people in the world, it’s up to you to try and cheer things along.

During my time, I started a slightly naughty, rude game of charades to try and keep everyone entertained.

That was me being myself. I never thought ITV would show it, but they did, it made great telly, and I’m sure that helped me win the show.

Luckily, I find people fascinating so I ­managed it.

And I’m sure Nigel will too. I’m also sure people will see a different side to Mr Brexit.

Good luck Nigel!

● Christopher Biggins, who was talking to Matt Nixson, is starring as The Man In The Mirror in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, from December 9 to 31

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