Bikinis are out, thermals are in: what a British I'm a Celebrity will look like

Michael Hogan
·6 min read
 I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here 2020 uk  - ITV
I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here 2020 uk - ITV

Britain has become a staycation nation and our reality shows are no different. ITV announced today that the upcoming series of I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! will be filmed in the UK for the first time.

The landmark 20th series, which was due to held in the Queensland bush this November, has now been relocated due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It will instead be broadcast live each evening from a remote ruined castle in the British countryside. The winner won’t be crowned King of Queen of the Jungle, but King or Queen of the Castle.

What might a homegrown version of the jungle favourite look like? How will the infamous Bushtucker Trials be Blighty-fied? Will it be renamed I'm A Celebrity... It’s Rather Nice Here Actually? Here are our hot-off-the-press predictions.

The weather

“Bonzer”, “strewth” and “g’day” no longer. Now it’s a case of “jolly good”, “crikey” and “morning, lovely day for it”. 

The sweltering climate Down Under means the celebrities don a uniform of shorts, vests and cork hats. There’s also always a “jungle babe” (usually a soap actress or glamour model) who totters around in a bikini and takes waterfalls showers in her undies. 

The tabloid perv factor might not be quite as high during a bracing British autumn. Cor, lads, look at her in a zip-up fleece and bobble hat. Quick! Press pause and take a screengrab! She’s topping up her tan in nothing but a thermal vest and long johns.

This year's celebs are more likely to be wrestling a dodgy ploughman's than a snake - Rex
This year's celebs are more likely to be wrestling a dodgy ploughman's than a snake - Rex

The food

ITV informs us that campmates can still look forward to a basic diet of rice and beans. They’ll have to pass gruelling trials and win fun-filled challenges to earn sweet treats or more substantial meals. 

Let’s hope these are tailored to suit the rural UK setting. Dinners can be a defrosted lasagne or disappointing Ploughman’s from a country pub, both with the industry standard “clump of cress” as a token gesture towards salad. If everywhere is closed (it always is in the country), they can settle for a wilting petrol station sandwich with “side dish” of crisps. A sweet treat? Souvenir fudge from the castle gift shop or a cream tea from a twee tea room with painfully slow service that you’re far too polite to complain about. 

Then, of course, come the extreme eating challenges. In the jungle, these invariably involve mealworms and witchetty grubs. Particularly lucky campmates might get to chow down on the private parts of a kangaroo or crocodile, punctuated by tears, whimpers and gagging noises. 

Luckily, UK cuisine has its own equivalents. Tripe, haggis and jellied eels, this is your moment. For the truly hardcore, try a doner kebab from a takeaway with a one-star food hygiene rating. Extra chilli sauce and unwashed red cabbage compulsory.  

More appetising than a witchetty grub? It's a close call - Getty
More appetising than a witchetty grub? It's a close call - Getty

The trials

The notorious Bushtucker Trial challenges undertaken by the celebrities are perhaps the format's best-known element. But without the lush jungle setting for extreme sports or exotic critters to face, how can such thrills and spills be recreated in UK mini-break country? 

Crazy golf or crown green bowls aren’t quite as adrenaline-fuelled as climbing through the tree canopy. Being trapped in a Perspex box full of ladybirds doesn’t seem quite as terrifying as green ants, stinging scorpions or giant burrowing cockroaches. 

So will deadly funnel webs be replaced by daddy long-legs (yikes!) or money spiders (scream!)? Could carpet pythons and thick-as-your-arm tree snakes be swapped for grass adders and earthworms? Sorry, nanna, but that cuddly stuffed snake with a forked felt tongue that you use as a draught excluder is fooling nobody. 

Without the scarily outsized wildlife, UK-based challenges might need to test patience and social skills instead. Can the celebrities brave the Kafka-esque admin labyrinth of signing up for Universal Credit or getting a drive-thru Covid-19 test? Can they keep up with the scanner at Aldi or operate a self-service checkout at Waitrose while a tutting queue builds up behind them?

If social distancing makes such excursions impractical, online trials could be tackled from the safety of camp. Let’s see if the campmates can successfully list an item for eBay auction or unsubscribe from Boden emails. To crank up the pressure in the contest’s latter stages, challenge them to change a printer ink cartridge or avoid accidentally signing up for Amazon Prime. That’ll sort the smart alecks from the giddy goats. 

No jungle for Ant and Dec this year, but at least they can have a lie-in - ITV
No jungle for Ant and Dec this year, but at least they can have a lie-in - ITV

The hosts

As they have for every series but one (due to Ant’s troubles™), cheeky Georgie chipmunks Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly will host the series, bringing viewers all the latest action and consoling eliminated contestants. ITV insist that “while it will certainly be different producing the show from the UK, the same tone and feel will remain”.

Will it really, though? Ant and Dec’s infectiously funny, freewheeling links are surely perked up by the fact that they stay in the five-star Palazzo Versace Gold Coast hotel, whiling away their days playing golf, being pampered and fine-dining at poolside. 

They’re consummate professionals, of course, but the duo might not be quite as chipper after being billeted in a Travelodge off the dual carriageway. They normally look tanned and relaxed in matching linen blazers. Now they’ll look pale and tense in matching Gore-Tex anoraks, like a bickering couple on a hill-walking weekend. Being in the same time zone as the viewers, however, at least means they can have a few lie-ins this year.

The supporting cult characters will need to change too. Bearded shopkeeper Kiosk Kev could be replaced by Tesco Trev or Burger Van Brian. Meanwhile, resident medic Dr Bob can expect to be usurped by an orthodontist called Colin or Sylvia from the typing pool who once did a first aid course and has her own tube of Savlon in her desk drawer. 

Young women, such as 2017 winner Georgia Toffolo, fare well in the steamy jungle - less so at chilly castles? - ITV
Young women, such as 2017 winner Georgia Toffolo, fare well in the steamy jungle - less so at chilly castles? - ITV

The celebrities

Young women have dominated the competition in recent years, with four of the last five winners - Jacqueline Jossa, Georgia “Toff” Toffolo, Vicky Pattison and Scarlett Moffatt - aged under 30. 

However, this year’s UK setting might mean the fresh-faced whippersnappers don’t have it all their own way. Sunnier climes and extreme sporty challenges play to the strengths of sportspeople, gym bunnies and buff boy band members. A UK castle in chilly autumn, by contrast, is the natural habitat of the more mature National Trust member. 

Older contestants are more accustomed to wearing sensible footwear and warm layers. They’ll have more of an interest in historical buildings. They’re less likely to whinge about the weather or being bored. Yes, this could be the year for a keep-calm-and-carry-on golden oldie. 

Could renowned castle visitor Dominic Cummings even become a contestant? He’ll need to pass an eyesight test beforehand. Darling, fetch the car and children. I'm A Strategist... Get Me in There!