Gary Susman
January 16, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

It should be hard to accuse a musician who once dubbed a series of nostalgia shows the ”Filthy Lucre Tour” of being a sellout. Nonetheless, that’s what some British punk purists are saying about John Lydon, a.k.a. Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten, for agreeing to star in the U.K. version of ”I’m a Celebrity? Get Me Out of Here!” Monday’s announcement of the cast for the show’s third edition, which premieres Jan. 26, ”made me feel instantly old,” wrote Lee Randall in The Scotsman newspaper. ”If it has come to this for the prince of punk, then mediocrity really does get us all in the end.” Punk-era impresario Tony Wilson said he was ”gobsmacked” that his acquaintance Lydon would appear on the cheerfully cheesy show. ”I’m shocked, but I have faith,” the Associated Press quotes Wilson as saying. ”I’m sure he’s doing it for the right reasons.” And what would those be?

Like the American spinoff that aired last year, the English series gathers a group of C-listers eager to extend their 15 minutes and strands them in a remote location (in this case, an Australian jungle) for ”Survivor”-like challenges, letting the TV audience vote them out one by one. To American observers, Lydon is the most prominent ”celebrity” on the show, whose 10 contestants will also include former soccer star Neil Ruddock, former Olympian runner Diane Rodahl, Atomic Kitten band member Kerry McFadden, BBC royal family reporter Jennie Bond, one-hit wonder Peter Andre, and topless model Jordan.

Even Lydon himself seemed to have some misgivings about participating. ”I could fall on my face,” he told London’s Evening Standard. ”It’s mainstream rubbish but it’s a serious challenge.” Nonetheless, the BBC reports, bookmakers are favoring the ”Pretty Vacant” singer to win, giving both him and Ruddock 3-1 odds.

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