‘On my Radio 1 show, I am always bubbly and energetic but everyone has down moments too, so it will be nice for people to see what I am really like’ said Jordan North before heading to I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
It’s not an obvious motivation to appear on the biggest TV show of 2020 – introducing yourself to over 10 million people to show yourself at your lowest – but, for me, that’s why Jordan is already proving himself to be a shining beacon to young men in the UK.
Today marks International Men’s Day, a day to celebrate the gents in our lives.
And as a desperately single thirty-something in a lockdown, for the next three weeks Jordan will more than likely be the most present man I have. Make of that what you will.
Like most of the population of ‘an age’, whose days of listening to Sara Cox, Jo Whiley and Edith Bowman on Radio One are long behind them, I’d never heard of Jordan North until his face popped up among the likes of Vernon Kay, Sir Mo Farrah and Corrie’s Beverley Callard in this year’s I’m A Celebrity line-up.
Few would have had him down as the next King of The Jungle less than a week ago, but four days into the first days at Gwyrch Castle, the presenter is steadily emerging as an unstoppable front-runner. Perhaps only Walford’s most notorious charmer, Shane Richie – aka Alfie Moon to EastEnders fans – is standing in his way.
Such a rapid turnaround is almost unheard of.
In the opening episode, Jordan broke an all-time I’m A Celebrity record by vomiting at the thought of having to abseil down a cliff-face five minutes into his stay. His place as the go-to camp mate for Bushtucker trials was sealed.
By his own admission, he then established that he was going to be a nervous wreck for the foreseeable future, listing his fear of snakes, bugs and heights. And it’s now been brought to our attention by his co-star, Nick Grimshaw, that Jordan also has to take the stairs at work because he’s scared of the lifts.
Initially, it appeared Jordan wasn’t destined for a long stay in North Wales, but thus far, despite his crippling phobia of anything that moves – or things that don’t – he’s proven to be an unstoppable force when faced with devouring a sheep’s penis or being locked in a case full of snakes.
But when the likes of Loose Women’s Janet Street-Porter are urging Jordan to ‘man up’, for me, he’s become more of a hero than many men who have previously appeared on the show, determined not to sweat a droplet at the sight of a huntsman spider or the taste of a pig’s testicle.
It’s easy to pretend you’re untouchable; it’s much harder to be vulnerable.
I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by plenty of positive male role models, both in my network of friends and immediate family. But growing up that wasn’t always the case.
School was ridden with toxic masculinity, and to say heterosexual men were intimidating is putting it mildly – which is too often the case for gay men growing up.
Thankfully, while it’s been longer than I care to share since I was in a school playground, I’m told more LGBTQ+ children are free to roam the school halls and eat their lunch in peace without being taunted over their sexuality, in a way a lot of my generation couldn’t.
There’s many reasons for this – it’s not ‘cool’ to be homophobic anymore. If your children are lucky, their difference is celebrated, not shamed. But there’s also a new type of male role model which is increasingly becoming the most influential – the sensitive male role model.
He’s kind, empathetic, open, emotionally intelligent and all that comes first and foremost before being a ‘man’. He’s relatable – no matter your sexual preference.
To have had role models like Jordan growing up would personally have been a transformative privilege. To know straight men can be like Jordan would have given me a much more hopeful outlook to the future ahead, which thankfully – as I mentioned before – is now full to the brim with positive heterosexual male figures.
But for any young man growing up, having a Jordan on primetime television, beaming into millions of living rooms during the confinements of the second lockdown, can only be hugely beneficial – teaching countless kids that if you can be anything, be kind, be yourself, and be a Jordan.
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! continues tonight at 9pm.
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