Ant and Dec are returning to ITV for their 20th series of I’m A Celebrity next weekend – although for the first time in the show’s 18 year history, this year’s contestants will be camping out in the UK due to COVID-19. (Learn more about the I’m a Celebrity filming location.)
With the I’m a Celebrity 2020 line-up swapping the Australian jungle for a Welsh castle this series, it’s worth remembering some of the show’s most iconic moments that occurred Down Under – from Gillian McKeith fainting after being voted to suffer through another Bushtucker Trial, to Dean Gaffney’s terrified screams in the jungle ‘spa’.
Who can forget Gemma Collins’ pleas to be let out of a helicopter? Or Ashley Roberts teaching the whole camp the choreography to ‘Don’t Cha’?
With two decades of material to look back through, here are some of the best moments from the long-running reality series.
Ashley Roberts teaches the camp to dance
Few moments beat the time during I’m A Celeb’s 2012 series when Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts was tasked with tricking her other campmates into performing a dance to her the chorus of her hit song ‘Don’t Cha’.
While Roberts feared she’d face resistance from some of the campmates – darts player Eric Bristow in particular – she soon had the celeb contestants bumping and grinding in the jungle.
Joey Essex spots a dragon
The Australian jungle is home to many creepy crawlies and dangerous creatures – including dragons according to TOWIE’s Joey Essex.
The 2013 contestant mistook a jungle lizard for the mystical beast whilst on his way to a bushtucker trial, exclaiming: “Woah – there’s a dragon on this bridge!” and running in the opposite direction.
Dean Gaffney’s not well ‘ard in the jungle
Gaffney’s hangdog face of utter horror when Ant and Dec revealed he was taking part in live trial Jungle Spa was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to the now legendary clip from 2006.
“Is this a wind-up?” he asked. “I’ve genuinely thrown up about four times.”
It’s nothing short of a miracle he didn’t vomit again live on-air, as he screamed, retched and whimpered throughout his ‘spa’ treatments – all while Ant and Dec sniggered on behalf of the nation in the background. Not for the faint-hearted (or sensitive-stomached).
Gemma Collins is a celebrity… get her out of there
Gemma couldn’t have been anything but jungle dynamite.
Unforgettable moments included: announcing “I think I’ve got malaria”, the dramatic tears – complete with running mascara – in the helicopter, and her general irritation at being slung in the jungle jail (“People who are murderers are treated better than this!”).
She quit the jungle (much to the dismay of Michael Buerk, of all people) after 72 hours, but the fact Gemma Collins memes, or ‘memays’, are still shared five years on proves you don’t have to win the show to be considered jungle royalty.
Dec’s victory lap across the jungle bridge
What is without question one of the finest I’m a Celeb moments, but it didn’t actually take place in the camp at all. Instead, it happened on the outskirts, a bit of jungle banter between Ant and Dec taken to outrageous, hilarious extremes…
2015 campmate Tony Hadley’s habit of referencing his stint on Celebrity MasterChef became a running gag between Ant and Dec, with a frustrated Ant eventually ‘banning’ all mention of the cooking competition series.
In a laugh-out-loud sequence, though, Dec was able to ‘trick’ his co-host into uttering the words “Celebrity Master Chef” and then celebrated in hilariously over-the-top fashion, screaming with joy, high-five-ing the crew and even taking a victory lap across the jungle bridge, fireworks blazing.
Paul Burrell’s Hell Holes
When former royal servant Paul Burrell was picked to take on Hell Holes, few could have expected just how traumatising the trial would be for him. While sticking his hand in to several holes in the wall, each with their own scary creatures on the other side, he looks like a man on the brink of certifiable insanity.
The assortment of gasps, screams and whispers he produces are oddly mesmerising, particularly when paired with the ever-changing looks of sheer terror painted across his face. Not the most dignified trial in I’m A Celeb history, but hey, at least he did it and got those all-important stars for camp. A for effort, Paul.
Gillian McKeith ‘faints’
And the Oscar goes to… Gillian McKeith. She never fainted while discussing people’s turds on You Are What You Eat, but a stint in the jungle camp was too much for the nutritionist who gave medic Bob the most air-time he’s ever had after collapsing on being picked for the live trial. Ant and Dec were very amused.
He’s a very small man
It’s so easy to kill a joke by not knowing when to stop, but Dec only got more entertaining with every shriek of “he’s a very small man” in reference to ex-footballer Dennis Wise in 2017. The presenter joked Wise dropped mouse-like pellets instead of using the dunny as he was “so small” and that he slept in Stanley Johnson’s sock because he’s “very tiny”.
He joked “tiny little Dennis” spent his time climbing inside campmates water bottles to “give them a good scrub,” lassoing ants as he rode a cockroach and cooking one bean for dinner which left him “so full in his tiny stomach”.
Amir Khan was the cat that got the (strawberries and) cream
“I’m having them. I want them now!” the boxing champ shouted while dressed as a giant cat as he poured cream over fresh strawberries and ate the lot with his paws after winning a Dingo Dollar challenge. “Don’t tell them,” he warned Iain Lee before walking into camp, with strawberry-stained paws, and telling his hunger-ridden camp mates that they lost the challenge. Savage.
Stacey Solomon lobs a stone at Dom Joly
The absolute epitome of “desperate times call for desperate measures.” X Factor star Stacey Solomon needed to slyly attract the attention of comedian Dom Joly, as they had been chosen to carry out secret tasks across the camp. After exhausting every subtle option, Solomon resorted to hurling a stone at Joly that just so happened to hit him squarely in the face.
Everything about this moment is TV gold: the thought process behind it, Joly’s incredible reaction (it looked like it genuinely hurt, bless him) and the fact that his fellow campers were so quick to dismiss it as nothing suspicious at all. This was the moment Solomon secured her title as Queen of the Jungle.
Joey Essex can’t tell the time
It was funny enough TOWIE star Joey Essex admitting that he was constantly fending off people asking him for the time in social situations because “I just don’t understand the ticks” (and because, anyway, his watch didn’t have numbers on it).
But arguably the most amusing bit was campmate Steve Davis’s increasingly exasperated face as Miss Great Britain Amy Willerton took pity on Joey and patiently tried to teach him how to tell the time using twigs and a circle drawn in the dirt.
David Gest introduces Vaginica Seaman
Long before the debacle that was Celebrity Big Brother’s “David’s dead”, Gest made himself a reality TV legend in 2006 thanks to his dry sense of humour and tall tales – the most infamous surrounding his uniquely-named maid, Vaginica Seaman.
“Her mother loved her body part so much, that she decided if she had a girl, she was going to call her Vaginica,” he announced to an otherwise-skeptical camp. “No bull.”
Truly an I’m a Celeb icon.
Peter Andre drives us all Insania
Seeing an earnest Peter Andre waxing lyrical about how much he loves singing, before cutting to a wild-looking Johnny Rotten, is nothing short of perfect television. Andre has since offered repentance for his sins, telling the Sunday Times’ Style magazine in 2015: “I’d like to say sorry to the British public for inflicting my song Insania on them. I hope we can all move on from it.”
The Harry Redknapp fan club
A bit like David Gest but without the unadulterated filth, the football manager won over the nation thanks to his showbiz stories (including ignoring Prince Harry in a waiting room), random facts (“I have no sense of smell, so I’m happy to be Harry the s**t shoveller), and devotion to both wife Sandra and jam roly-polys.
Whether he had taken the crown or not in 2018, Redknapp was always set to be the series favourite. King of the Jungle and king of our hearts.
The new series of I’m A Celebrity begins on Sunday 15th November at 9pm, with a special, A Jungle Story, airing on Sunday 8th November at 8.10pm on ITV – check out what else is on with our TV Guide