Politicians who have traded Westminster for reality TV

Matt Hancock is set to appear on the upcoming series of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

The former health secretary is by no means the first politician to swap the green benches of Westminster for the bright lights of show business.

Here are a few others who have had a shot at reality TV glory.

Matt Hancock has whip suspended after agreeing to join ‘I’m A Celebrity’ as contestant

Ed Balls

The former shadow chancellor was an unexpected success story when he traded parliament for the pasodoble by joining Strictly Come Dancing in 2016.

Mr Balls won over a legion of fans for his performances on the show, where he partnered with Strictly pro Katya Jones.

His salsa to Korean superstar Psy’s hit Gangnam Style proved a particular fan favourite and helped him last into the 10th week of the competition.

Penny Mordaunt

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Penny Mordaunt (centre) appeared on Splash! in 2014

Long before she twice attempted to become prime minister, Penny Mordaunt appeared on the short-lived celebrity diving show Splash! in 2014 alongside Gemma Collins and Paul Young.

Still a serving MP at the time, Ms Mordaunt pledged to donate her £10,000 appearance fee to the renovation of her constituency lido and an armed forces charity.

The current leader of the house bellyflopped out of the competition, which featured Tom Daley as a mentor, after mistiming a somersault, finishing in ninth place.

Edwina Currie

Edwina Currie during the launch show for Strictly Come Dancing at BBC Television Centre, Wood Lane, White City.

The former Tory MP has appeared on two of the biggest reality shows out there since retiring from politics.

She first featured on Strictly Come Dancing in 2011, where she partnered with professional dancer Vincent Simone. However, her dance moves failed to impress either the judges or the public and they became the first pair voted off the show.

Her stint on I’m A Celebrity in 2014 was somewhat more successful, with her coming fourth in the overall competition.

Nadine Dorries

'I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!' TV Programme, Australia - 12 Nov 2012
Bushtucker Trial, Bug Burial - Nadine Dorries

12 Nov 2012

The ex-culture secretary sparked controversy when she announced she was appearing on I’m A Celebrity in November 2012, while still a serving MP.

Her decision to head to Australia to appear on the ITV show resulted in her having the Conservative Party whip withdrawn for six months.

The MP’s time in the jungle was short-lived, however, as she became the first celebrity voted off the show after just 11 days.

George Galloway

George Galloway and Pete Burns in the diary room picking their dance task
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George Galloway and singer Pete Burns in the Big Brother diary room

The controversial former MP and London mayoral candidate was something of a trailblazer in making the jump from politics to reality TV, appearing on the fourth series of Celebrity Big Brother while still MP for Bethnal Green and Bow.

Mr Galloway’s stint on the show is best remembered for his infamous cat impersonation, which saw him drink from a bowl and stroked by Coronation Street actress Rula Lenska.

He was evicted on day 21 of the competition.

Ann Widdecombe

Ann Widdecombe and Anton du Beke go through their routine at Blackpool's Tower Ballroom for ahead of the Strictly Come Dancing show tomorrow.
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Ann Widdecombe and Anton Du Beke

The former Tory MP was partnered with Anton Du Beke on the 2010 series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Despite her performances being roundly panned by the judges, she proved popular with the public who kept her in the competition for 10 weeks.

More recently she appeared in the 21st series of Celebrity Big Brother in 2018 where she finished second in the competition to drag queen Courtney Act.

Lembit Opik

I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here' TV Programme, Australia - 22 Nov 2010
Lembit Opik

22 Nov 2010

Ex-Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik appeared on the 2010 series of I’m A Celebrity after losing his seat in the election earlier that year.

He survived two weeks in the jungle, during which time he was bitten by a snake while completing a trial.

The former MP for Montgomeryshire’s other reality TV credits include the celebrity versions of Come Dine With Me and The Apprentice.

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