GILLIAN McKeith’s live fainting on the telly last night drew the meannest of comments. Worst diver since David Ginola, that kind of thing.
I know readers of these pages aren’t the kind of people who watch a woman wobble to ground over and over again, we’re all too high brow for the jungle programme. But if you do you will be reassured early on that everything is going to be ok in the end with the sight of Nigel Havers calmly taking a swig of juice from his flask in the back row. As PJ and Duncan flail around, he sees no reason to bounce over the one from Big Brother and rescue the woman lying on the floor. You know at that moment, Gillian will be fine.
It’s all feintly cruel, asking a woman who screams at a leaf brushing the side of her face to apple bob with weavils. Yet, the bastards pressing redial on McKeith’s number every night – presumably due a big refund this week – have the unbeatable defence for their sadistic choice: She knew what she was getting herself into from the start. This basest form of entertainment hinges on the idea of finding one method after another of chucking bugs in your face. A mili-ounce of research would have told Gill that.
Yet her faint does gives us the chance to re-tell the story about her one-time electoral ambitions, first revealed in Piers Wauchope’s account of Camden’s political history. A resident of the borough, the yarn has it that McKeith fancied being a councillor or even the MP for Hampstead and sounded out local Tories. She sat before a selection panel eight years ago but later withdrew her application.
Wauchope, the leader of Camden’s Conservatives, later recalled: “It was very funny. None of us had heard of her and we were looking for a candidate to stand in Hampstead Town. We thought it would be nice to have a woman. She said she wanted to be a councillor. I remember her interview. The chair, Pam Chesters, asked her why she wanted to be a councillor and she said: ‘I want to be an MP for Hampstead’. I actually had to leave the room because I could not help myself from having an attack of the giggles.”
McKeith also recalled the episode earlier this year, speaking to the Camden New Journal’s Dan Carrier: “I cared deeply about the local community, and at the time I was not known in Britain. I thought I may be able to help make a difference.”
Hear that? She cares deeply. How is she rewarded? A carton of spiders emptied into her face until she needs an oxygen mask. Funny old world.