HE’S desperate to shake his ‘disgraced MP’ image – but Matt Hancock’s attempt to relaunch himself as a reality star and influencer is failing to win over the public, an expert has claimed.
Even Channel 4 had a pop at him before last night’s episode of his latest TV series.
The announcer joked: “Sixteen recruits in an inhospitable landscape next tonight as the country’s favourite stars – and Matt Hancock – all take part in Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins.”
The former Health Secretary was left teary-eyed during a brutal boxing bout with ex-footballer Jermaine Pennant and grilled by the ex-Special Forces Directing Staff about his handling of the Covid crisis and his affair with Gina Coladangelo.
During his interrogation Matt says he went on the show to “test the limits” and “see how deep he can dig” – but maintained he “didn’t break any laws” when he cheated on his wife with his aide.
PR expert Carla Speight says Matt’s latest reality TV stint – which was recorded prior to his appearance on I’m A Celeb last year – is “insulting to watch” and “unlikely to do him any favours”.
She adds that his TikTok videos – which range from country walks with Gina to him ranking his favourite drinks and a cringeworthy Barbie movie tribute – are “more bearable than the dreadful over-acting he’s displaying in Celeb SAS”.
“Matt’s clearly walked into this thinking he can fool the country into believing he’s a tough guy and the hero,” Carla says.
“What he’s displaying on Celeb SAS is the same personality he displayed as an MP – narcissistic, egotistical and frankly delusional.
“This terrible action movie hero-styled routine is definitely not going to do him any favours.
“It’s either incredibly arrogant or a genuine display of how stupid he thinks the public is.”
Since leaving the world of politics behind, Matt has embraced social media, seemingly attempting to attract a new audience and ‘show the real him’.
While he’s notched up 230,000 TikTok followers and 2.5million likes, the comments on his videos are often hostile and sarcastic.
On a video in which Matt ranks his favourite chocolate bar, one TikTok user wrote: “What about if it’s a choice between your wife and Gina Coladangelo?”
Celebs who have featured in his videos have also received backlash.
In one he dances to Lizzo’s 2 Be Loved with fellow Celeb SAS stars Love Islander Montana Brown and Gareth Gates. One of Montana’s fans commented: “I’d have kept that in the archive to be honest, MH really isn’t someone you should be proud of doing trends with.”
Carla says: “Clearly Matt thinks by appearing next to the good guys, he will somehow dance away the harm he’s done.
“But it’s not working because he’s not had an ounce of sincerity when addressing the backlash he’s faced and the comments on Montana’s post are a true reflection of how the public feel.
“Will that backlash in the comments make a shred of difference to his approach? No, I don’t think so.
“It seems his narcissistic venture of chasing celebrity status is too important to him… It’s a terrible strategic move to make.
“He can’t simply dad dance and pivot his way out of this and into celeb status. He needs to reevaluate what his strategy should be and it should start with showing some real remorse and accountability for his actions.”
Carla believes his “questionable” appearance on Celeb SAS – for which he was paid a reported £45K – could be damaging from a personal and celebrity branding perspective.
“During the interrogation on last night’s episode, Matt failed miserably at showing any sort of sincerity about breaking the pandemic guidance,” she explains.
“Interestingly he seemed to have picked up some ideas around how he portrayed that particular grievance in the I’m a Celeb Jungle.
“He is a lot more defensive on Celeb SAS, challenging the Directing Staff like he’s better than them, though he quickly realised they have no tolerance for that and see through his infamous pivot and spin tactics.
“He was also colder with the other celebrity recruits – he seemed to be isolated and unsure, whereas in the jungle he was keen to be part of the team, like he was one of them.
“He was either fronting it out or he was still of the mindset that he’s above them.
“Whatever his thinking was, it won’t land well with viewers and will serve as a reminder of why the majority of the public don’t like him.”
Reality show villain
Carla says if Matt wants to win over public opinion, he needs to lose the arrogance and defensiveness and be sincere in his apologies.
“Whilst everyone likes a villain in a reality show, Matt is simply deluded if he thinks doing shows like this, with such an arrogant approach, is going to do him any favours,” she says.
“When you have such strong opinions about you, there has to be a point that you genuinely take on board the damage your actions have done and hold yourself accountable.
“He simply hasn’t done that and that is not going to promote a longstanding and reputable career in showbiz.
“Perhaps he knows that, and that’s why, after banking a £320K pay cheque from I’m A Celeb, he set up a new production company.
“When the offers inevitably dry up, he can then create opportunities for himself instead.”