Vernon Kay backed axed TV show amid claims it was ‘humiliating’ for guests

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The Bolton-born star will feature on this year’s I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, which airs on ITV this Sunday, after he was secured for a reported sum of £250,000. Kay has hosted a number of game shows including All Star Family Fortunes, Beat the Star and Splash, as well as presenting a slot on BBC Radio 1. He will star alongside former EastEnders star Shane Richie, athlete Sir Mo Farah, BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire, Coronation Street’s Beverley Callard and others. Kay worked a number of jobs before he got his break in TV, including putting stickers on bananas in a factory, and now a recently resurfaced clip showed his brutal first show on the box. 

Kay was cast as the main host for Channel 4 programme Boys and Girls, which ran for just one season in 2003 after it failed to secure a big enough following. 

Produced by Chris Evans, the programme pitted 100 men and 100 women against each other in a competition to win a prize.

During the show, contestants gave a performance before they were judged as either a “babe” or a “minger” on national TV.

In a Daily Mail report after the show aired, it was described as being “the ultimate in humiliation television”, something Kay felt was unfair.

He told the publication: “The thing is, the contestants don’t take it seriously.

“There’s a lot on telly that’s quite negative these days, but Boys and Girls is so atmospheric you can’t help but enjoy it.”

The young star, around 29 years old at the time, was told by Evans that he wanted the show to be “really positive” with “loads of atmosphere and everyone smiling and laughing”.

In one racy clip, a 26-year-old named Craig, from London, danced on-stage in a Wonder Woman costume and sang Bonnie Tyler’s 1984 hit Holding Out For a Hero.

The contestant gyrated his hips as he stripped-off his superhero costume and narrowly avoided revealing his genitals, which were hidden under a monkey-faced thong.

Kay, who sported long hair and a blue suit, told a slightly embarrassed Craig: “[You] looked a little bit too comfortable in that outfit.

“Alright mate, the girls are going to take a good look at you. Girls if you think he’s a babe press one on your keypads. 

“If you think he’s a minger – Ally McCoist in the background – press two on your keypads, you’ve got 10 seconds to vote, vote now girls.”

While they awaited the verdict, Craig picked mystery holiday number four, which a co-host in a blue nun’s costume revealed was a “weekend for two in Ibiza”.

Kay said: “The votes are in, the girls have voted – do you think they voted you a babe or a minger?”

Craig stated, “I hope I’m a babe” and after a number of tense pauses the presenter revealed 71 percent of the women thought he was a “minger”.

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The contestant covered his face in shame and several men hugged him, as the audience sang along to Carly Simon’s 1972 song You’re So Vain.

Boys and Girls was cancelled after its first season and Channel 4’s then-Chief Executive Mark Thompson said it wasn’t fit for a Saturday night prime time slot.

He felt that it was “too narrowly focused” on younger audiences and only drew in five percent of viewers – half the amount needed to secure a second season.

The show, which was commissioned at £500,000 for each of its 12 episodes, had around 1.1 million tune in at its peak.

After it was scrapped, Mr Thompson told the Guardian in 2003: “I wouldn’t call it a failure. 

“It was certainly an experiment to do something big on a Saturday night. People who liked Boys and Girls really liked it.”

TV critics were unimpressed by the show, including the BBC’s Tom Bishop who wrote: “This wasn’t trash TV, it was just plain scrappy. All the fun of a hangover.”

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The Guardian’s Gareth McLean added: “That’s entertainment? Only if you’re very young, very drunk or harbour an ambition to be a Big Brother housemate.”

The public seemed to be split in a BBC poll – as one individual commented that it “glorifies the absolute worst aspects of consumerist society”.

A second wrote: “Vernon Kay hasn’t got the bones to present any kind of TV show… will he now take his cue and go back to being a clothes horse instead?” 

A third admitted “it was terrible” but it had “that car-crash TV factor” that she “couldn’t stop” herself from watching.

She added: “There were things that were good about it, for example, Vernon Kay did a good job as presenter (great dancing Vern!).

“To be honest, you knew exactly what you were going to get before you tuned in. It was a Saturday night laugh for the kids, no more no less!”

The full line-up of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! is: Vernon Kay, Shane Ritchie, Beverley Callard, Hollie Arnold, AJ Pritchard, Jessica Plummer, Jordan North, Giovanna Fletcher, Victoria Derbyshire and Sir Mo Farah.

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