I’m A Celeb’s “disappointing” UK-based revamp could be its most-watched series yet

The show's relocation to North Wales may sound underwhelming, but viewers will flock to watch celebs swat away seagulls in the freezing cold, says Lauren Morris.

Ant and Dec I'm a Celebrity

Last week, the UK was hit by the news of yet another COVID-caused TV bombshell, when ITV confirmed that I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here would, like many British holidaymakers, be planning a staycation this year.

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The long-running series, fronted by Ant and Dec, will reportedly be swapping a campsite in New South Wales for a castle near Snowdonia, with this year’s celeb line-up tipped to stay in the 200-year-old – and allegedly haunted – Gwrych Castle.

Unsurprisingly, the news has been met with groans of disappointment from many, with frustrated fans tweeting, ‘I’m A Celeb simply isn’t the same without the jungle!’ – not to mention the constant stream of jokes flooding social media, comparing the upcoming series to Bronze Medal DoE or backing Tesco Tony as Kisok Kev’s replacement.

Fans’ furore at the location change is understandable – I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Holywell doesn’t quite have the same ring to it – but despite the public’s initial reaction, the show’s upcoming 20th series could result in some of the biggest numbers ITV has seen so far.

Gwrych Castle – where this year's series of I'm A Celeb is due to take place
Gwrych Castle – where this year’s series of I’m A Celeb is due to take place
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Regardless of whether I’m A Celeb: UK edition actually works, viewers will be tuning in to watch it either succeed expectations and become a surprisingly successful format, or witness it crash, burn and sink into the Irish Sea. The novelty of a series set in a Welsh seaside town is bound to draw in curious TV lovers – considering I’m A Celeb will be effectively acting as a test-run for other internationally filmed shows like Love Island, there’s a lot riding on this British-based series.

On that note, ITV will certainly be feeling the pressure to up the ante this year and as a result, we’re surely likely to see bush tucker trials and dingo dollar challenges on a much larger scale to compensate for the lack of actual bush tucker and the absence of dingos.

When it comes to the physical challenges, perhaps this year’s famous line-up will arrive by jumping out of a helicopter into the River Wye, with the public later voting as to which celeb should hunt for stars whilst trapped in a Mr Whippy van full of seagulls.

As for eating trials, the locally-sourced creepy crawlies we’ve seen in previous serious could be swapped out for Welsh delicacies, like laverbread, offal and bara brith, but with sell-by-dates that are on the brink of edibility – to give the dishes that classic Jungle flavour. The possibilities are endless and whichever way producers decide to take the trials this year, they’re sure to be interesting.

Another key difference this year which could tempt viewers is the change from the extreme heat of the Gold Coast to the freezing cold temperates of North Wales in November. Celebs will be swapping cargo shorts and bikinis for thick thermals and waterproofs to battle the classically British winter weather in what’s likely to seem like a cross over between SAS: Who Dares Wins and Big Brother minus the infamous house.

Watching these (yet to be announced) household names struggle to accustom to cold showers whilst living in the frosty outdoors will undoubtedly make for entertaining viewing, especially since those celebs will have spent the last seven months in lockdown, presumably without speaking to many in the outside world. If, like the rest of us, their social skills have deteriorated due to majorly increased screen-time, then a camping trip with 11 other strangers in chilly conditions will surely result in the kind of drama that for the rest of us will make suffering through lockdown all this time almost worth it.

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Putting aside all the changes that come with such an extensive relocation, this year’s I’m A Celeb can always count on one constant to keep it going and that’s Ant & Dec, who’ll be hosting the upcoming series come rain or shine (but most probably rain). So even if the above predictions don’t initially draw in the viewers, you can guarantee that the crowd-pleasing comic duo will do a lot of the heavy-lifting. Either way, with this series being the first live reality show to hit our screens since lockdown began, I’ll definitely be watching.

I’m A Celebrity will return to ITV later this year. If you’re looking for something to watch tonight, check out our TV Guide.