ITV is moving its celebrity reality show I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! from Australia to the UK after staging the show in its usual New South Wales home proved too challenging amid coronavirus.
Ant and Dec will host Season 20 as usual, but it will be set in the ruins of a countryside castle, rather than the tropical jungle of Australia. Celebrities will undergo all the usual grueling challenges and one will be named King or Queen of the Castle.
Richard Cowles, director of entertainment at ITV Studios, said: “We pulled out all the stops to try and make the series happen in Australia. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and despite us looking at many different contingencies, it became apparent that it just wasn’t possible for us to travel and make the show there.
“However, we are all really excited about a UK version of I’m A Celebrity. While it will certainly be different producing the show from the UK, the same tone and feel will remain. Our celebrities will probably have to swap shorts for thermals but they can still look forward to a basic diet of rice and beans and plenty of thrills and surprises along the way.”
I’m A Celebrity is one of ITV’s most important brands and, after originally launching in 2002, it is always among the UK commercial broadcaster’s highest-rated shows of the year. There was a feeling in entertainment circles that, after ITV lost Love Island earlier this year, it could not afford to let another tent-pole succumb to coronavirus.
With its big-ticket sponsorship and millions of viewers, I’m A Celebrity is a crucial advertising play in a market that dropped a whopping 43% between April and June — the worst decline in ITV’s 65-year history. The show is also hugely important to ITV Studios, which has remade the format in Australia and U.S. among other territories.
ITV director of television Kevin Lygo said: “We announced last week that we were doing all we could to make the series and I’m thrilled that we can bring the show to viewers albeit not in the jungle. We have a great team both on and off-screen and I know they will produce a hugely entertaining series.”
I’m A Celebrity is not the first UK entertainment show to shift filming to the UK from overseas — and is unlikely to be the last. Deadline revealed in May that BBC One’s Danny Dyer-fronted game show The Wall will be filmed in the UK instead of Poland, with Banijay-owned producer Remarkable Television scoping out studios in London.