"I got on really well with Lembit Opik, he’s as mad as Bez": Shaun Ryder looks back on his time in I'm A Celebrity...

Shaun Ryder in 2019
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As the chief lyricist and frontman in two brilliant British bands, Shaun Ryder has done more than enough in music to be rightly considered a national treasure. But the Happy Mondays and Black Grape man has added another chapter to his CV over the past decade or so, becoming both a hugely entertaining reality TV star with regular appearances (alongside his long-term sparring partner Bez) on Celebrity Gogglebox, a stint hosting a series about UFOs and a period when he was the face of an advertising campaign for Iceland. Ryder is a rock’n’roll renaissance man, and his TV career began in earnest when he appeared on the reality show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! back in 2010. In a recent interview with The New Cue, he looked back at his time in the jungle.

“I got offered Big Brother years before, but I was still looking at reality television in a dirty way… ‘I’m an artist and I don’t do that…’,” Ryder explained. “But I saw what it did for Bez [Bez appeared in Celebrity Big Brother in 2005]. When I got asked to go in the jungle I was in receivership and my accountant said by the time I’d get out of the jungle he’d have me out of it. It was the first time in 12 years that I could keep any money that I earned off anything. I came out of the jungle and we had a whole new fanbase of kids who had watched that show. Every time me and Bez go on Gogglebox, they download our albums and turn up at our shows.”

Asked how he might have managed if he’d been stuck in the jungle with Nigel Farage, he shrugged it off and said it would be fine. You can have somebody who’s the most sociopathic, nutcase cunt on the planet but it doesn’t mean that when you’re out in the pub with them that they’re not going to be alright for two hours,” he matter-of-factly explained. “Anyone can seem like a human being for a short while. One of the biggest fears I had when I went into the jungle the first time was I really thought all these fucking luvvies, I wouldn’t get on with any of them. But I did. I got on really well with Nigel Havers, I got on really well with Lembit Öpik. Not only does Lembit look like Bez, he’s as fucking mad as Bez. It’s surprising who you get on with. You have to go through a lot of psychiatric work to go on one of these shows because they have to make sure you’re not going to kick the living fuck out of someone and they’re going to have to pay out millions in insurance because you just took some cunt’s eye out with a spoon.”

Spoken like a true national treasure. Ryder will be back in his natural habitat over the next few months as the Happy Mondays hit the road for a UK tour.

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.