I look back on the couple of weeks I spent on the set of Love Island Get me a Celebrity Extreme, or whatever it was called, with a profound mixture of sadness, bemusement, horror and befuddlement. It escapes reason why such a programme was ever commissioned. The court case barely scratched the surface, in my opinion, despite the 300 hours of testimony from former employees of the now defunct production company. Anyways, mine is not the place to ask why, but merely to report the facts, like a good scientist should. The following account contains scenes that some readers may find disturbing
Part IV - Emergency
So far I have avoided much mention of the celebrities, beyond a brief description of their attributes. It was clear to me why they were there, as their only interest seemed to be how much they were being 'paid to shit in this hellhole' as one of them put it. They didn't mix with anyone outside their circle when off camera, and when on camera gave the impression that they couldn't give two stuffed monkeys about what they were doing. The crew, ever more lairy, had started to goad the celebrities with small insults about their lives back in the UK. The only person to escape their teasing was the one-eyed ex Judo champion who could have probably tied most of them up in knots, despite his monocular vision.
The one I took the greatest dislike to was the miniature car salesman. He was proud of the fact that he was still selling parts of a fully- replicated 1950's Ford Mustang (1:16) model on the front of one of his magazines that began running four years ago. At a cost of £3.99 per weekly issue, anyone still collecting parts was now looking at a total cost of £829, with half the engine (another fourty parts) still to be supplied. He confided one night whilst drunk that several parts were made to be deliberately incompatible with the rest, and when put in place would cause stresses on certain other, deliberately weakend parts that would eventually make them snap after a moderate amount of handling. The idea was to switch production over to a new model immediately after issuing the last piece of the Ford Mustang, and then offer to repair the broken cars at a not-inconsiderable price. He reckoned that at least ten thousand people were going to have to fork out £100 each for the repair, and that no-one would refuse given the intial cost of ownership.
The other celebrities possessed little by way of personality. I almost liked the 1950's folk singer, whose career had come to a tragic end when her band were electrocuted on stage by faulty microphones (she was towelling herself down at the time when the surge passed through the equipment and the other five members were in the last bars of a harmonised vocal), but she did have the rather offputting habit of eating her own ear wax. The former wife of an MP was too washed up to make much sense, and the newsreader was too nervous to say or do anything useful. He spent most of his time swatting at insects, visible or not, and complaining that he had a fever, stomach ache, angina, arachnophobia, Reynauds disease and a spastic colon.
By day 12 I had almost permanently retreated from the set, preferring to leave them to their bickering and poisonous cliques. My collection of parasites from the local fauna was expanding very well - I had twelve morphologically distinct worms and several cysts preserved in formaldeyde for shipping back to the UK. In terms of the production itself I wasn't called on to do much, except swab and dress the occasional shallow flesh wound, hand out headache pills, advise on the safety of sleeping without a bednet etc. Except, that was, until day 14, when my skills at post-mortem dissection skills were called on in the most unusual and unfortunate of circumstances.
I was in the middle of excising the liver from a short tailed rat I had trapped earlier in the day when there was a sudden commotion from outside the tent. I heard the producer frantically calling my name and telling me to 'get my fucking ass out here now'. Annoyed at having to abort the dissection, I placed my instruments carefully to one side and wrapped the half disected rat in a muslin cloth. Emerging from my tent, I observed a small crowd of people gathered around a prostrate body, which I immediately recognised to be that of the former judo champion. He was writhing around on the ground and calling out for someone to 'get this fucking thing out of me' I then heard the producer shout 'Don't touch it - let the Doctor have a look'. She pointed at me and motioned me to come over. I complied, and the crowd drew to one side as I approached.
On the floor in front of me was the judo player, but he was clearly not in a relaxed state. His upper torso was bare, and covered in welts. His face was covered by his hands and he was groaning that he couldn't see a 'fucking' thing. I asked the crowd what was wrong, but they just pointed and said 'his eyes...look at his eyes' Bending down, I asked the judo player to remove his hands. At first he refused, but I started to prise at them until eventually he relented.
What greeted me was something I had never seen before, and that I hope I will never, ever see again.....