There has been huge media interest in the announcement that Robert Kilroy Silk MEP is going to appear on “I’m a Celebrity”, eating bush tucker and widgetty grubs in the Australian outback. I can’t wait to see it (if I can remember to watch). I have done a huge number of press, radio and TV interviews on this story, and my line is — I wouldn’t mind him taking a few weeks out for a TV show, if he did a decent job for his constituents for the rest of the year. But he doesn’t. He’s frequently unavailable to the press. He’s only rather occasionally in the parliament, and when he votes in plenary he keeps his finger on the “Abstain” button. I know that because I can clearly see how he votes from my own seat in the Hemicycle. And so far as I can ascertain, he hasn’t been seen in the East Midlands amongst the constituents he’s supposed to represent for a very long time.
I was amused to hear that he justified his jungle jaunt by arguing that “he hadn’t had a holiday this year”. I understand that he spends most of his time in his Spanish villa, recharging his permatan by the pool. He appears to do little else but take holiday. (Robert — if you want to challenge my account, maybe you’d care to publish your attendance record for the last four years?).
But one question I have been asked several times, and to which I didn’t have the answer until yesterday, is: how much money is he getting for the show? But the figures for Kilroy, and for most of his companions, were published yesterday in the Telegraph. I have to say that of the motley list of his companions, I only recognised a handful of names — Martina Navratilova, the tennis star. Esther Rantzen, the TV presenter. Brian Paddick, the ex-policeman and failed Lib-Dem Mayoral candidate. The others were new to me, which either shows that I’m out of touch with popular culture, or that they’re not really celebrities. Maybe both.
But I was impressed to note that Kilroy is way off the pace on fees (if press reports are right). Dani Behr (who’s he?) is up for £40k. Martina comes a close second at £30k. Esther Rantzen is worth £25k. George Takei makes £20k. Poor old Kilroy comes in at £15k, fifth equal with Brian Paddick. Mind you, he seems to be worth twice as much as Nicola McLean, so I feel rather sorry for her. Whoever she is.
I do hope that Kilroy enjoys his toasted widgetty grubs, and feels that the effort was worth it. But if the plan is to revive his media career, then his fees for this enterprise suggest he still has some work to do.