We’ve still got a little wait until I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! returns to ITV for its 19th series – but show bosses are already busy 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 said: “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 and Rita Simons).
I’m a Celebrity 2017 main cast profile (ITV Studios, FT)
Creative director Richard Cowles said 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.”
Jungle King Harry Redknapp (ITV)
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?
Blue’s Duncan James has reportedly signed a deal to appear on the next series, according to The Sun, who reported the singer and former Hollyoaks actor is picking up a handsome cheque to battle his phobia of snakes head-on.
“Producers think he could be telly gold because he will have to face his phobias head-on,” a source said. “The best campmates are the ones who have to overcome their fears — and Duncan has told them he is game for anything.”
She became a fast favourite on Love Island thanks to her upfront demeanour and no-nonsense discussions about sex – now, one plucky fan wants more of Maura on our screens.
A Twitter user with the handle @SuperTV247 slid into ITV’s DMs asking how many retweets would it take to get Maura into the jungle, with the broadcaster asking for 10,000.
Currently, we’re on slightly over 200, but because she is TV gold, we can imagine execs may already have Maura in mind for the camp. Watch this space.
Ulrika Jonsson (Getty)
Ulrika has done the rounds on the reality TV circuit, having previously starred in Dancing on Ice, Big Brother and Celebrity Masterchef – but it looks as if the popular TV presenter of the 90s may be looking to add I’m a Celebrity to her roster.
Sources have suggested the 51-year-old is now in advanced talks to enter the jungle-based reality show in a bid to revive her career.
“Ulrika has been through a lot in the past few years. And now that she is getting divorced she feels the time is right for a new challenge,” an insider told The Sun.
“The Australian jungle certainly fits that description. And she knows that if she signs, it will be the first of many new TV contracts coming her way.
“Ulrika is keen to throw herself back into her presenting work full time and she feels that this could be the right first step for her. Meanwhile, ITV bosses think she could be a great fit for the jungle, as she won’t hold back when it comes to getting stuck into the challenges.”
Ian Wright (Getty)
The former Arsenal striker is reportedly in advanced talks to enter the jungle, and is thought to have been offered a six-figure salary to appear.
“Ian would be a massive signing for ITV who have been keen to get him Down Under for a while,” an insider told The Sun.
“After watching Harry Redknapp win the last series, Ian has decided he would be up for giving it a whirl. He’s been offered a six figure sum to take part.
“Ian’s not afraid of much but has joked to his pals he’ll be useless at the eating tasks because he’s so fussy.”
Footballer turned pundit Alex Scott has proven, perhaps unintentionally, that she’s got the grit required to enter the jungle this year.
At half-time during the England v Japan Women’s World Cup match, BBC presenter Gabby Logan and Scott could be seen trying out snails, the local delicacy of the tournament’s host country, France. The pair valiantly picked the snails out of the shells and ate them without any garlic butter or seasoning at all, and while Scott might not have enjoyed them, she certainly didn’t kick up a fuss, leading Logan to declare: “The jungle next for Alex Scott, I think.”
Scott merely laughed in response… a classic diversion tactic, surely. Could Scott be heading down under for this year’s series of I’m a Celebrity?
There’s a history of Coronation Street actors heading to the jungle (think Sair Khan, Craig Charles…), and Lucy Fallon has been touted as the next cast member to swap the cobbles for the creepy crawlies…
“I think I’d be good at the jungle. I like to challenge myself and that’s the most challenging show you can do,” she told the Daily Star last year.
The presenter, documentary-maker and Strictly Come Dancing queen (who has since starting dating her Strictly dance partner Kevin Clifton) could have her eye on lifting another trophy, as bookies have slashed the odds of her joining the jungle to 3/1.
The Corrie and Red Dwarf star has previously appeared on the show back in 2014, but sadly had to bow out early after his brother died of a heart attack. He’s since been rumoured to reenter the jungle, and this year is no exception.
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 that the show would have required.
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…