A statement released on behalf of a duo in August read: “Ant McPartlin today announces he will continue to take a break from all television presenting roles until 2019. Ant will not present ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!’ in November this year.”
This Morning host Willoughby, 37, was announced as his replacement later that month.
“I couldn’t be more excited to have been asked to stand alongside Dec for the next jungle adventure,” she said in a statement. “I love Ant and want to send him my best wishes and support for a continued recovery. These are big shoes, not to fill, but just to keep warm for a little bit…”
The pair have since released their first exclusive teaser hosting together.
Ironically, it was teased by Ant and Dec last year that Willoughby was going to be Ant’s replacement.
The Jungle hierarchy
ITV has completely smashed it this year by announcing incredible line-ups for both I’m a Celebrity…and Dancing on Ice, far out-doing the efforts of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.
This year has attracted some bona-fide stars to slum it in the jungle for three weeks, with shock signing, former Doctor Who star John Barrowman, already a hot favourite to win.
The 51-year-old says he’s cool with eating “balls, bums and willies” ahead of the Bushtucker Trials. He’s our marmite campmate – love him or hate him, he’s sure to ham up everything he’s tasked to do, a la Paul Burrell.
Harry Redknapp and The Chase star Anne Hegerty are likely to fill the “camp mum and dad” role – although Redknapp has openly asked who is going to “wash his pants” while he’s Down Under. Meanwhile, our money is on Nick Knowles being this year’s answer to 2016’s Larry Lamb – with a strange, malignant sort of sex appeal, the DIY SOS presenter looks like he’d also dive into murky waters to save a struggling campmate.
Anne Hegerty, I’m a Celeb (ITV)
Fleur East could be a surprise hit, following fellow X Factor finalist Jake Quickenden’s popular turn as a campmate in 2014, while Emily Atack, of The Inbetweeners fame, is set to be this year’s Myleene Klass – having already stripped to her swimwear and conveniently strolled down a beach in front of paps. Paired with squeaky-clean pop star James McVey and Hollyoaks young’un Malique Thompson-Dwyer, these three are likely to blend into the background – extras to the real stars of this year’s show.
Sair Khan, I’m a Celeb (ITV)
Soap stars always tend to do well in I’m a Celeb…with both Emmerdale’s Adam Thomas to Lucy Pargeter making it to the finals of their prospective series. With her cheeky sense of humour and huge popularity as EastEnders’ dearly-departed Roxy Mitchell, Rita Simons could be this competition’s dark horse. Elsewhere, Corrie’s Sair Khan, who’s quirk seems to be she’s actually quite nice, could go far – particularly as her only goal is to make sure “people are able to pronounce her name” when she leaves.
However, the camp dynamics are sure to be torn asunder with the arrival of two mystery campmates – with one of them rumoured to be Noel Edmonds, who will surely ruffle a few feathers should the wicked whispers be true.
Changes to camp
Springbrook National Park in Murwillumbah, New South Wales is still the home of I’m a Celeb, but the celebs are set to be pushed to a limit with all new trials which are billed to be more gruesome than ever.
In a recent interview, trials chief Matt Wilkinson revealed that this series has devised the biggest trial the show has ever seen involving all the campmates.
Toff I’m a Celeb (Screenshot, EH)
“It’s the biggest thing we’ve ever constructed for a trial,” he told Digital Spy.
“I can say that all the contestants will be present. I can’t tell you in what capacity. I can’t tell you anything more than that.”
He also teased that one new trial will have more critters than ever before, with one featuring 160,000 bugs and a separate trial with 50 snakes involved.
While we’re likely to see another eating trial at some point (Meal or No Meal, Noel?) Wilkinson said they’re considering introducing a new delicacy into camp.
“The only new thing we’ve looked into are sea urchins – but we’re not 100% sure we’re going to get them,” he said, “They are horrible spiky little balls with apparently very little meat on them. The urchin will be for them to eat as a reward for a trial – but I don’t know what the trials team is feeding them in the trials this year, because that changes.”
Kiosk Keith was sacked from the show earlier this year, after The Sun reported that Raymond Grant, who played the character, was accused of coming into work after drinking and behaving inappropriately towards a female colleague.
Which celebs will fare the best at the Bushtucker Trials?
Every year the public has their fingers crossed in the hope of finding another celeb who doesn’t like trials… that they can keep making do trials.
This cohort of celebs seem fairly hardy so far – though Emily Atack may be setting herself up for a fall by announcing she “has no phobias”, so she may be positioned to become the next Helen Flanagan.
Harry Redknapp’s hard Cockney stance looks set to be tested, but he has a habit of just quitting should he not be performing well, so he may not be so good to test trials on.
Emily Atack, I’m a celeb (Getty)
Rita Simons looks like she’d be a trooper in taking challenges in her stride – though it may be too easy to conflate her with her tough EastEnders character.
This series of I’m a Celeb have rounded up some huge characters, which are bound to clash after tiredness, starvation and boredom kicks in.
The Chase’s Governess, Anne Hegerty, has admitted that she likes “routine”, which could annoy a few people, while Harry Redknapp seems to expect to have someone to look after him as he previously admitted his wife does everything.
John Barrowman’s “showman” routine may stave off boredom for a few days, but may quickly become grating on campmates who may see him try to take the spotlight off them.
Who’s our winner?
Looking at his huge fanbase and genuine popularity across people of all ages, it would seem this series is John Barrowman’s to lose at this present time. As a former Doctor Who star (and a hugely loved one at that), Barrowman already has an army of Whovians with their phone poised at the ready to vote. Even those who may dislike Barrowman may grow to love him, as he is sure to add entertainment value into the camp.
Rita Simons, I’m a Celeb (ITV)
However, we cannot deny the popularity of the teen vote, with bookmakers offering odds of 4/1 on The Vamps guitarist James McVey taking the crown.
Elsewhere, Rita Simons still has her huge EastEnders fan base tracking her, and could be willing to back the star should she settle into jungle life well.
But for now, the competition is wide open, as we’re yet to truly assess the celebs out of their comfort zone until the show starts on Sunday night.
I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! launches Sunday night at 9pm on ITV