Time to call it quits? I’m A Celebrity veers from one disaster to another as Storm Arwen halts production, jaded viewers pine for Australia… and even Ant and Dec long for the jungle!
I’m A Celebrity 2021 has been beset by disasters – with fans begging for the show to go on hiatus until it can return to Australia and hosts Ant and Dec admitting they are missing the Australian jungle.
The first week of the reality show, now in its second year at Wales’ Gwrych Castle, has already seen the departure of hotly-anticipated contestant Richard Madeley due to illness, cancelled shows due to extreme weather conditions and stars removed from the castle after Storm Arwen sent a 100ft tree crashing into a wall of the building.
Two episodes of the show have been cancelled this weekend because of the disruption to production caused by the storm – with reruns of the show’s heyday in Australia aired to fill the gap.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Australia’s subsequent border restrictions, it is unclear when the show will return to Australia – with the immediate future of this year’s series also up in the air.
Will it go on? I’m A Celebrity 2021 has been beset by disasters – with fans begging for the show to go on hiatus until it can return to Australia and hosts Ant and Dec admitting they are missing the Australian jungle (pictured Wales’ Gwrych Castle)
Showing that they were pining for the jungle also, hosts Ant and Dec responded to a fan on Saturday: ‘Bless you. Sorry we can’t be there but hope you’re enjoying seeing the show in Oz again! D x’
The compilation clips which aired on Saturday threw things back to the glory days in Australia with archive footage of the show’s funniest and most iconic moments from the last 19 years, with a voiceover from Ant and Dec.
But some viewers at home appeared unimpressedas they claimed the throwback show just highlighted ‘how much better it was in Australia’ and urged the network to ‘scrap’ the show until it could return to the jungle.
Stars have been forced to endure freezing 8°C cold temperatures and no protection from the elements after bosses shelled out £1 million to secure use of the site when production was forced to be relocated from Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Australia? Showing that they were pining for the jungle also, the hosts responded: ‘Bless you. Sorry we can’t be there but hope you’re enjoying seeing the show in Oz again! D x’
Got out of there: In a major blow to the show as one of their top signings, Richard Madeley, who was paid an estimated £200,000 to star in this year’s competition, was taken ill on Thursday hours after participating in a gruelling trial and complaining about the castle’s freezing temperatures
They added that seeing the show at its best in the jungle down under just made them aware of how much this year’s show fell short of their expectations.
Taking to Twitter, one viewer wrote: ‘Slight backfire for ITV with the Legends #imaceleb programme just highlighting how much better it was Australia…’
Another added: ‘Watching this makes you realise how p**s poor it is now, just scrap it till it can be done in Australia again.’
A third lamented: ‘This is making me miss it being in Australia so much!’
A fourth chimed in: ‘These flashback shows show that the show used to be a lot more brutal than it is now, and it’s also so much better in the jungle!’
Missed out: DJ Locksmith was reportedly lined up to be Richard’s replacement but has lost out on an I’m Celeb stint after his hospital visit broke ‘Covid bubble’
Chaos: The I’m A Celebrity campmates have recently been removed from Gwrych Castle as Storm Arwen continues to cause technical difficulties
‘Can’t wait for when it goes back to jungle. Watching this show just reminds how good it is,’ gushed another.
Ant & Dec did not present Friday’s episode live for the first time in the show’s 19-year history and filmed their segments earlier in the afternoon ahead of the storm worsening.
In a major blow to the show as one of their top signings, Richard Madeley, who was paid an estimated £200,000 to star in this year’s competition, was taken ill on Thursday hours after participating in a gruelling trial and complaining about the castle’s freezing temperatures.
The presenter, 65, was unable to return as he has broken the show’s ‘Covid bubble’. A ‘gutted’ Richard reassured Ant and Dec he was ‘fit as a fiddle’ and has been given a ‘clean bill of health’ in his first interview after leaving the I’m A Celebrity camp during Friday night’s episode.
In a pre-recorded chat the broadcaster told the Geordie duo that ‘if it wasn’t for Covid, he’d still be in the game’ and that ITV were ‘adamant’ he was sent to hospital to be checked over.
On Friday’s episode Richard joined Ant and Dec for an interview and joked as he mimed removing a thermometer: ‘I’ll just remove the thermometer… yes, still normal.’
Asked if he was feeling okay the star said: ‘I feel as fit as a fiddle and I am fit as a fiddle. And you know if it wasn’t for Covid I’d be back there sort of eating rice and beans.
‘I had to leave… it’s a Covid situation. It’s still biting our bums isn’t it? What happened was, I had just a funny little turn quite sort of late in the morning.’
Weather: The remaining stars will individually return to quarantine to ensure they remain covid secure and will only return once the whole production is safely re-established
He continued: ‘ITV are so good with duty of care. They were adamant. They said ‘No, we have to make sure that you’re OK.’ I said, ‘But I am OK.’ They said, ‘We have to make sure.’ So I went to the local hospital – I was only in there for about an hour and a half – I was given really thorough checks and I was given a completely clean bill of health, I’m absolutely fine. No matter what you might have read, I’m absolutely fine.’
At the start of the episode, the other campmates were informed that Richard wouldn’t be coming back and were shown a video message.
In the clip Richard said: ‘Hi guys, first thing to tell you straight away is I’m completely fine, it was what was known as a false alarm but I had to come out for a couple of hours of medical checks.
‘I’m as fit as a fiddle in which case I could/should be back in with you right now. But it’s our old friend Covid, I had to come out into the Covid world and I can’t risk bringing the bug back in with me and ruining the experience for you guys, the programme and the viewers. So that’s it, my adventure is over.’
Change: It comes after ITV bosses announced that the two live shows on Saturday and Sunday would be scrapped due to the bad weather and replaced with compilation clips looking back at previous series – while they hope normal service will resume next week
Safety first: The stars of this year’s series will be spending the night out of the castle due to the treacherous storm
He continued: ‘I just want to say how much I love you, you know I mean that and how much I’m grateful to you for everything you’ve said and done for me over the past few days and I’m going to set up that WhatsApp group we spoke about for when you come out.
‘We can all talk to each other again and hopefully meet up. Anyway, I’ll be watching over the next few weeks and I wish you all the love and luck in the world, I can’t wait to see who wins.’
Richard was set to be replaced by DJ Locksmith from Rudimental, but he reportedly lost on the spot after he was rushed to hospital with an unknown medical condition. No celebrity will be entering the camp to replace him.
Earlier this month, the DJ – real name Leon Rolle – was spotted arriving in Wales with the other campmates to start their two-week quarantine ahead of new series – and was then reported to be a stand-in contestant.
The I’m A Celebrity campmates have recently been removed from the Castle in north Wales after Storm Arwen sent a 100ft tree crashing into a wall of the building – and it’s feared that the show’s return could be delayed for days after filming equipment was damaged.
Nightmare: It was thought that the gale at 70 mph knocked out satellite systems and caused huge technical disruption for the production crew
The stars will individually go back into quarantine to ensure they remain covid secure and will only return once the whole production is safely re-established, the technical difficulties are sorted out and the weather conditions died down.
ITV bosses hope normal service will resume next week.
A statement from ITV read: ‘Whilst we get the production base back up and running after suffering technical issues due to the storm, we have removed the celebrities from the castle.’
The quarantine conditions for the celebrities will be the same as they had pre-show, where they stayed in cottages in the surrounding countryside area.
Reaction: Fans were gutted to hear the news of the show being cancelled after looking forward to tuning in, with one writing: ‘That’s a shame, but safety comes first, and that’s what counts!’
According to The Sun, as the falling tree was lifted by the wind and smashed into the castle ramparts, a second, also 100ft tall, was flung through the air, ending up on a path near Cledwyn’s Kiosk.
A source told the publication of the possible delays to the show coming back on air: ‘This is a crushing blow. No one anticipated the disaster that this storm would cause and it has completely blindsided us.
‘The worst damage is to one of our three production areas – the tent where we keep the scanners, the TV editing suite, the production office and our IT equipment. From the outside, it is wrecked.
‘At the moment, we still don’t know what the damage done to the equipment is, as we can’t go in until it has been declared safe.
‘But we need time to get everything fixed and the break buys us some time. We are hoping against hope it will be enough and that we can return on Monday. To go ahead then, we also need the green light to bring more staff back on set. But at the moment, nothing is guaranteed.’
Change: Ant and Dec posted a short clip of themselves at Ant’s Welsh cottage on Saturday ahead of the compilation show and said: ‘Hello and welcome to I’m A Celeb, live from my cottage kitchen, this is the best we can do at the minute as we can’t get into site at the minute’
MailOnline has contacted ITV for further comment.
It comes after the show has been cancelled this weekend because of the disruption to production caused by the storm.
In addition Friday’s programme was pre-recorded by hosts Ant and Dec for the first time in the show’s 19-year history following the ferocious weather conditions.
The earlier ITV statement about the cancelled shows said: ‘Owing to technical difficulties caused by extreme weather conditions in the area, there will be no new episodes of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! this weekend (Saturday and Sunday).
‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! will be replaced tonight and tomorrow night in the ITV schedules by compilation shows (voiced by Ant & Dec) featuring best moments from previous series.’
It was thought that the gale at 70 mph knocked out satellite systems and caused huge technical disruption for the production crew.
Destruction: As exclusive pictures show, marquees where presenters Ant and Dec are driven into were ripped to shreds
Storm Arwen impact: The roofs were ripped off and canopies torn apart as the gales struck
Safety first: ITV took extra precautions to ensure the celebrities were safe, but the devastation was felt around the set with a three week programme going out nightly
And while it was hoped that things would continue as normal this weekend, the impact of Storm Arwen has meant that urgent changes have had to be made.
Fans were gutted to hear the news of the shows being cancelled after looking forward to tuning in, with one writing: ‘That’s a shame, but safety comes first, and that’s what counts!’
Another said: ‘Nooooooo stay safe everyone!’ while a third fumed: ‘UGH I HATE WEATHERRR!’
Someone else wrote: ‘Bummer not on for the next two nights! stupid storm!’, while a fifth posted: ‘Stay safe all we understand!’
Ant and Dec posted a short clip of themselves at Ant’s Welsh cottage on Saturday ahead of the compilation show and said: ‘Hello and welcome to I’m A Celeb, live from my cottage kitchen, this is the best we can do at the minute as we can’t get into site at the minute.
‘We don’t have a live show for you tonight or tomorrow night, these aren’t even scripts actually they’re just bits of paper we found! There is a show on ITV tonight, it’s a highlights show voiced by us. How about we get a Saturday night takeaway and watch I’m A Celeb! Shall we do that! In my cottage!’
Keeping track: Urgent checks had been made to satellite equipment to ensure that Ant & Dec can resume live broadcasts on Saturday, after Friday night’s live show was cancelled and pre-recorded material used due to storm warnings
Tragic: Following shots exhibited the damage done to a subsequent tent, which had collapsed into a recreational vehicle and exposed a series of metal poles
Terrifying: Sections of its roof had blown away, which exposed scaffolding structures and demountable buildings beneath to strong wind and rain
Protection: Extreme weather warnings have forced the show’s producers to take emergency measures to protect its stars who are staying in the 19th century castle
It comes as I’m a Celebrity’s production was left ‘like a bomb had hit’ as the storm unleashed its full force onto the castle where the eleven stars are holed up.
Security staff and production workers had ‘to run for their lives’ and were ‘blown off their feet’ as 70mph winds battered the 19th century Gwrych Castle in North Wales.
As exclusive pictures show, marquees where presenters Ant and Dec are driven into were ripped to shreds, while roofs were ripped off and canopies torn apart as the gales struck.
ITV took extra precautions to ensure the celebrities were safe, but the devastation was felt around the set with a three week programme going out nightly.
Urgent checks had initially been made to satellite equipment to ensure that Ant & Dec can resume live broadcasts on Saturday, after Friday night’s live show was cancelled and pre-recorded material used due to storm warnings.
Weather woes: The castle had been taking a weather battering with gale force winds and driving rain bringing down tree branches and safety signs
Bad weather: Fencing and signs had been blown over in the area surrounding the derelict Welsh castle
A source said: ‘It was terrifying. Down at the front of the castle people were running everywhere to try and secure property and the fencing.
‘People were blown off their feet. Thankfully nobody was seriously injured.
‘But it looks like a bomb has hit the site today. The roofs of the marquees have been ripped or torn off and equipment is lying on on its side along with the fencing.
‘It is devastating. But producers have been brilliant in bringing in extra staff and taking extra measures.’
The celebs had to be cordoned off from everyone else who is not a part of the anti-covid bubble and were kept in a safe area as the overnight storm struck.
Security staff stay in caravans at the front of the castle and the battering sent Christmas lights installed there flying.
On Saturday, urgent clearing up was taking place and repairs will be carried out to the marquees, where Ant & Dec and all others who arrive undergo security checks and asked to disinfect their hands.
Better days? Viewers at home were left unimpressed by I’m A Celebs compilation show on Saturday as they said it proved the Australia series were so much better (Ant and Dec pictured in Australia in 2019)
Elsewhere, further images taken on Saturday morning show the extreme weather’s devastating impact upon a large white tent, which protected a series of trailers and vans for production of the show, with onlookers claiming all non-essential crew have been taken off site due to the dangerous conditions.
Bosses were forced to pre-record Friday’s show amid safety concerns for contestants at Gwrych Castle in North Wales, with hosts Ant and Dec recording their segments earlier that afternoon.
Sections of the tent’s roof had blown away, which exposed scaffolding structures and demountable buildings beneath to strong wind and rain.
Following shots exhibited the damage done to a subsequent tent, which had collapsed into a recreational vehicle and exposed a series of metal poles.
‘Slight backfire for ITV…’ Viewers at home appeared unimpressed by the compromise and urged the network to ‘scrap’ the show until it could return to the jungle
An ITV spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Tonight’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! will be broadcast as a pre-recorded show rather than live due to the developing Storm Arwen and precautionary measures we’re putting into place on production.
‘Ant & Dec will record their links early evening and these will be played out during tonight’s show. Our celebrities will remain inside the castle which is secure and we have contingencies in place to cover all weather scenarios to ensure the safety of our cast and crew.’
Speaking in a short clip posted to their Instagram ahead of the show the duo explained about the change to the set up, with the storm and strong winds clearly audible in the background.
Dec said: ‘So you’ve probably heard we are having to record the show a bit earlier tonight because of the winds and Storm Arwen. It’s bad, it’s really windy isn’t it, you can hear the wind rattling, so we have got to get it done now and get out of here.
‘It’s due to get worse later, so everybody is afraid that the satellite is going to go down and all of that so it’s a bit risky to do a live show. So we will have to do it recorded tonight, that’s the first time we’ve ever done that.’
He then joked: ‘It’s very very windy, and even worse for that it was lentils for lunch! So Ant is a bit windy as well!’
Stars including Frankie Bridge and Naughty Boy, who argued on Thursday’s show over rice, will face further tensions as the storm hits, forcing contestants to shelter together in the freezing castle.
Gwrych Castle has been taking a battering with gale force winds and rain bringing down tree branches and safety signs.
The Met Office has warned there is worse to come for the area around the castle from a storm they have given the Welsh name of Arwen.
The first heavy blasts meant security guards who had been brought into Gwrych Castle to protect the eleven remaining celebrities had to leave their posts to retrieve and reposition fencing blown down by the extreme weather.
Road signs which had been held down with sand bags were felled and blown into the road as cars had to swerve to avoid them.
Extreme weather warnings have forced the show’s producers to take emergency measures to protect its stars who are staying in the 19th century castle.
The Met Office said: ‘Storm Arwen will bring very strong northerly winds into coastal parts of Wales and parts of western England Friday night and into Saturday. ‘
Gwrych Castle is positioned high up on a hill in an open space, less than a mile from Liverpool Bay which borders the Irish sea.
The Met Office added: ‘Flying debris is likely and could lead to Injuries or danger to life; Probably damage to trees, temporary structures and buildings, such as tiles blown from roofs.
‘Some roads and bridges are likely to close; There is a good chance that power cuts may occur, with the potential to affect other services, such as mobile phone coverage.
‘Injuries and danger to life is likely from large waves and beach material being thrown onto coastal roads, sea fronts and properties.’
Chaos: It was thought that the gale at 70 mph knocked out satellite systems and caused huge technical disruption for the production crew