In a classic case of ‘anything you can do, we can do better’, ITV has proved that if the BBC can get Strictly on air, they can make I’m A Celebrity 2020 work in a pandemic too.
Naturally the producers have been forced to get their thinking caps on to figure out how the series can be made in a COVID-safe way, while still being entertaining for viewers.
Some of the changes have been well-publicised, others may surprise you. Read on to discover what will be different as I’m A Celebrity enters its 20th season.
Let’s start with the obvious. This year’s brave celebs won’t be sleeping in the Australian jungle, instead they’ll be bedding down in Gwrych Castle in Abergele, North Wales. With travel disruption rife since the start of the pandemic, it’s hardly surprising that ITV bosses decided not to film this year’s show on the other side of the world. It’s hoped that a combination of haunted castle corridors and nippy British weather will only add to the entertainment for viewers.
It is reported that ITV paid the estate £300,000 to use the location, which will go towards vital long-term repairs.
Don’t worry, Bushtucker trials haven’t been scrapped, but they have been adapted to make sure they are COVID-safe. ITV says, “Fortunately, the castle has provided much inspiration to the Trials and Challenge teams and the celebrities won’t be short of a fright or two. Although in a new setting, the show will feel like I’m A Celebrity.” So it doesn’t sound like the campmates (castle-mates?) will get off easy. Phew!
If you’re wondering why Ant and Dec are allowed to stand so close together, it’s because they’ve formed ‘a close contact cohort’, which is similar to a bubble. They have COVID tests every three days to make sure they are safe.
The celebrities isolated for two weeks before entering the castle, during which time they were tested regularly, which was when it was discovered that AJ Pritchard was carrying the virus. Once the show begins, they will be living together as a bubble, and will also be tested every three days, probably in the Bush Telegraph (Castle Watchtower?).
All crew will be tested twice weekly and have undertaken mandatory COVID training.
Working from home
Don’t worry, Ant and Dec won’t be presenting the show from their living rooms. However, many of the hard-working team behind the scenes have been doing their jobs from home offices as part of ITV’s COVID management plan.
No, we’re not talking about the ones on Britain’s Got Talent. Every member of the I’m A Celebrity crew will wear a so-called ‘proximity buzzer’, which will alert them if they come closer than two metres to another person. This makes it easier for everyone to stick to social distancing rules. Nifty, eh?
The I’m a Celebrity team has also brought in typical measures present in workplaces up and down the country, from hand sanitising stations around the castle to increased cleaning of Ant and Dec’s studio area. Behind the scenes, the crew will be wearing masks and their temperatures will be checked when they arrive at work every day. No visitors will be allowed onto the set – this may well extend to the celebrities’ friends and family who usually attend every eviction episode.
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! season 20 begins on Sunday 15th November on ITV. To find out what else is on in the meantime, check out our TV Guide.