We’re still a little while off until I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! returns to ITV for its 19th series – but the casting team are already sourcing this year’s campmates.
The stellar work of celebrity executive Micky Van Praagh made jungle legends of Harry Redknapp, Emily Atack and Noel Edmonds, with the casting team hoping to recreate the same magic for this year.
Van Praagh is starting to craft the camp, admitting that while she acknowledges the show did well last year, she is hoping for something “completely different” for 2019.
Speaking at the BAFTA Masterclass for I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, she explained, “It’s very early days, but we’ve already started casting.
“I think we know what works. I think of our show as a comedy and so I’m looking for people who are funny and high energy as we know those types of things always work.
“But otherwise you want to do something completely different every year. You’re never looking for the next Harry Redknapp or the next John Barrowman or the next Fleur East. You’ve got to do something different.”
While Van Praagh insists she never does the show “by numbers”, it could be argued that there is a formula that the more recent series of I’m a Celeb follows when it comes to casting – a slightly older ‘geezer’ father figure of the camp (Larry Lamb and Harry Redknapp) a young and chipper TV personality (see Scarlett Moffatt and Emily Atack) and, inevitably, a soap star or two (Lucy Pargenter, Rita Simons).
I’m a Celebrity 2017 main cast profile (ITV Studios, FT)
Creative director Richard Cowles argues that, while older reality shows such as Big Brother have deliberately sought to cast fiery personalities in order to stir up fights, I’m a Celebrity’s appeal stems from its warmth; choosing to see how interesting characters respond to the pressures of the harsh environment.
“We have never casted for conflict,” he said. “If arguments go on for too long it can get a bit dull and relentless.
“We will always try and cast for warmth and for people to get on. But we want it to be as stressful as it can be because that’s when you see people’s true colours and how they would react.”
With Harry Redknapp the worthwhile winner for the 2018 series, who is rumoured to be following in his footsteps to be crowned the next King (or Queen) of the Jungle when the show returns in November 2019?
It’s not uncommon for former footballers to swap sports for reality TV (Wayne Bridge, Kieron Dyer and Neil Ruddock have all had a crack at the jungle in the last five years) – so its no wonder that bookies have the former England centre-back high on their list for joining the I’m a Celeb jungle in 2019.
Gemma Collins on Dancing on Ice (youtube screenshot)
TOWIE star Collins, 37, famously only lasted three days in the I’m a Celeb jungle in 2014, not even making it to the main camp before walking from the show in true diva style.
However, the reality TV staple, who is currently causing controversy on this year’s Dancing on Ice, has repeatedly expressed a keen interest in returning to the show to try and prove her haters wrong.
Speaking on ITV’s Loose Women last year, she explained, “I was meant to go back in the jungle the year after I came out.
“Do you know what, if it come back again, why not, why not? I would probably be terrible at all the tasks and all that.”
Love Island star Georgia Steel has expressed her interest at trying her hand in the jungle, after well and truly spicing up the villa in series 4 of the ITV2 show.
Speaking to the Express last year, she said, “I would love an opportunity like that as I think it would be amazing!
“It would be very scary though. Of course, anything is possible…”
Another Love Island star that has thrown his (cork) hat into the ring is Eyal Booker, who expressed a keen interest in showing a more rugged alternative to his usual hashtag deep persona.
“I’d love to go into the jungle, or The Island with Bear Grylls,” he told RadioTimes.com. “I’d like to do a show away from dating where I’m more into my natural environment, in nature. I’d like to do lots of jumping around and crazy activities.”
He even teased his upcoming project, after his stint in Celebs Go Dating, involved “animals” – perhaps hinting at I’m a Celeb’s numerous critters.
“I can’t tell you too much about it,” he teased. “But it’s me more in nature, back in my natural environment, doing my thang.
“There will be animals involved.”
The breakfast TV star was heavily rumoured to appear in last year’s line-up, before reportedly “dropping out” last minute due to the amount of time spent outside the UK.
An insider explained, “Kate is no longer taking part – she didn’t want to be out of the UK for a long time and it’s just not the right time for her to take part.”
However, the insider continued to The Sun that Garraway may be keen to return to the jungle at a later date.
“She’s a big fan of the show so she’s not ruling it out forever – just this year!” they added.
Could 2019 be Garraway’s time to shine?
Michael Le Vell
Michael Le Vell (Getty)
Corrie star Michael Le Vell was initially rumoured for the 2018 line-up, after his name was reportedly suggested by producers in the early stages of discussions.
Should Le Vell swap the Corrie cobbles for the delicacies down under, he would be following in a long line of stars from the soap to have taken part – with Sair Khan, Jennie McAlpine and Craig Charles having also appeared on the show.
Holby City actress Rosie Marcel – who plays Jac Naylor in the BBC drama – was asked last year whether she would want to appear on I’m a Celebrity.
“I’ve had a couple of meetings. I have spoken to them, it is something I would love to do actually,” she said. “I think for me it would be an amazing challenge.”
Bake Off’s Rahul Mandal
As well as winning The Great British Bake Off, Rahul won the nation’s hearts when he was crowned champion in October last year – with the star quickly becoming hotly tipped to swap baking to Bushtucker Trials.
Bookies are offering 2-1 odds of the PhD student heading Down Under.
His rumoured inclusion comes after fellow Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain teased on Lorraine that she would also be interested in joining the programme.
“I’d love to do the jungle though, if I was offered,” she said.
“I like being dirty and mucky and like the idea of living in the outdoors, flying out the planes.”
The Strictly star stunned audiences when she was caught locking lips with her celebrity dance partner Seann Walsh – despite being married to fellow Strictly dancer Neil Jones.
While Katya and Seann quickly issued their apologies for the kiss (and were knocked out the competition a few weeks later), bookmakers issued odds of 20-1 for the twosome to head to the jungle.
But with Katya’s strict Strictly schedule ruling her out of the 2018 line-up, could she choose to waltz off to the jungle over the dancefloor this year?
Dani Dyer has become quite the reality TV mainstay – having briefly appeared in ITV’s short-lived Survival of the Fittest, the 22-year-old then earned her crown as the nation’s sweetheart thanks to her blossoming romance with Jack Fincham in the fourth series of Love Island.
She has since starred with her famous dad Danny Dyer on Celebrity Gogglebox in addition to Danny Dyer’s Right Royal Family, and starred alongside Jack in their spin-off show Life After Love Island.
After being hotly tipped last year, would Dani consider a solo mission to the I’m a Celeb jungle?
The public evidently love a Toff, with Made in Chelsea star Georgia Toffolo being crowned Queen of the Jungle in 2017.
Now, Jamie Laing is also keen to follow in her footsteps and head to Australia, with the 30-year-old having been rumoured to join the show for some time.
“Jamie has been telling friends he is in talks to do it, which is long overdue after his stints on the ITV2 show,” an insider told The Sun.
“Producers love that he has got a TV following and online fans with his own YouTube channel, as they are trying to snap up a younger audience.
“He’s a cheeky chappie and no doubt the public will fall in love with him like they did Toff.”
More rumours to follow…