Despite hopes that this year’s instalment would see the contestants taking to the much-loved Aussie jungle, bosses were forced to abort plans yet again.
Now, it seems the country’s lockdown hell may force fans to accept a third year of fun-and-games from the wintery Welsh set.
Preparing: I’m A Celebrity bosses are reportedly in talks to secure Gwrych Castle for a third year running due to fears of the coronavirus plunging the hit series into doubt (pictured in 2020)
A TV insider told The Sun: ‘This time last year, the prospect of I’m A Celebrity not returning to Australia and having to return to the castle seemed slim.
‘Now the show is going back to Gwrych after ITV had the foresight to reserve is for a second series – and they want to make sure they’re equally prepared for the worst in 2022.
‘Going back to Oz is still the goal. But this is about bosses taking every step possible to ensure Britain’s favourite TV show stays on our screens. So they’re likely to approach the castle owners imminently.’
Swapping Australia’s New South Wales for Britain’s North Wales, the camp had been set at a down-under spot since its 2002 debut.
However, presenters Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, both 45, fronted a revamped show from the new location in 2020 due to Australian travel restrictions.
Something different: Presenters Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, both 45, fronted a revamped show from the new location in 2020 due to Australian travel restrictions (pictured in 2020)
Insiders previously revealed to MailOnline that the show had been thrown into chaos following the last minute change of plans.
However, there is no fear behind the scenes of the show’s success after the roaring triumph of last year’s Welsh series, won by Giovanna Fletcher.
Sources said: ‘It doesn’t mean the series will be below par as the last series was the second most popular in show series and that was in Wales.
‘Bosses are working hard to get things ready for the launch following Australia’s status change.’
The last series was the second most popular series since IAC started. The launch episode got 14.3 million viewers consolidated.
Back then: Last year’s series – won by Giovanna Fletcher (pictured in 2020) in the backdrop of the country’s Gwrych Castle – was a roaring success despite its move from the jungle amid restrictions in place from the coronavirus pandemic
Australia has tightened the screw on its strict Covid lockdowns – ordering millions in Queensland to stay at home until at least the end of the week as the country struggles to control outbreaks of the highly-infectious Delta variant.
The change in status has led to the overhaul in bosses’ plans.
Katie Rawcliffe, ITV Head of Entertainment Commissioning, said: ‘We can confirm today that we’ll be returning to Wales for the 2021 series of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!…
‘We’ve always said we have contingencies in place for the series if the covid situation continued to bring uncertainty, and after a highly successful run at the castle last year we’re pleased that we can return there…
‘I have no doubt the production team will produce another hugely entertaining series.’
Changes: Swapping Australia’s New South Wales for Britain’s North Wales, the camp has been set at a down-under spot since its 2002 debut (pictured in 2018)
Richard Cowles, Director of Unscripted at Lifted Entertainment said: ‘With the continued uncertainty around covid and international travel we have taken the decision not to return to our home in Australia for the 2021 series…
‘We’re excited to return to Gwrych Castle. The last series was a huge success and we were made to feel so welcome by everyone locally and can’t wait to see everyone again.’
Dr Mark Baker, Chair of the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust said ‘I’m absolutely delighted that I’m A Celebrity has chosen Gwrych Castle to be its UK location for the 2021 series.
‘Gwrych Castle is a beautiful grade I listed historic house and a must-see destination for tourists visiting Wales…
‘I’m A Celebrity being here will really help support its ongoing restoration as well as giving the region a much-needed economic boost. We are all very excited to be working with the team again.’
The Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden, said: ‘This is excellent news and we look forward to welcoming the I’m a Celebrity team back to Wales this year, and to working with them to make it an even better year! Croeso nol! Welcome back!’
Back in May it was revealed that bosses needed to decide within the two weeks whether the show returns to Australia or remains in Wales for a second year.
The ITV series filmed in Gwrych Castle last year after the Covid-19 pandemic made it impossible for the show to travel safely to Australia.
A source told MailOnline: ‘ITV need to decide in the next two weeks whether they go to Australia or Wales this year. It’s decision time!
Wow! The last series was the second most popular series since IAC started. The launch episode got 14.3 million viewers consolidated (pictured in 2020)
‘However if they choose Australia there is every chance it could be cancelled later down the line because of Covid If they choose Wales, it is guaranteed it will happen.’
The source added that if the show does remain in Wales for another series, ITV will have to fork out more cash than they would for Australia.
They added: ‘It costs MORE to film in Wales than fly to Australia as it’s a four month set build. That’s why they have to make a decision now. Time is running out. And there is no show without them. So it’s all pointing to being Wales. Oz is far too risky.’
An ITV spokesperson has since confirmed to MailOnline that bosses have ‘plans in place’ for both locations.
Cost: The source added that if the show does remain in Wales for another series, ITV will have to fork out more cash than they would for Australia (pictured in 2020)
They said: ‘No decisions have been made regarding the location for the new series and we have contingencies and plans in place for all possible options.’
It comes after reports the show’s location remained up in the air after Australia warned international borders will remain closed indefinitely.
Earlier this week, Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said reopening the borders too soon would expose the country to another and more ruthless outbreak of Covid – with Finance Minister Simon Birmingham pushing the date to 2022.
Due to current regulations, travel to Australia is only permitted if travellers are ‘exempt’ or have been ‘granted an individual exemption’.
According to The Mirror, ‘talks are thought to be ongoing at ITV’ while Gwrych Castle is said to ‘have an agreement’ to host I’m A Celebrity again this year.
Hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly recently said that plans to return to Australia for I’m A Celebrity this year are ‘still up in the air’.
The Prime Minister said Australians had come to accept local lockdowns as ‘part of living with Covid-19’ and that residents did not have ‘an appetite’ for change.
He warned that reopening the borders too soon would expose the country to another and more ruthless outbreak of Covid-19, like the ones experienced in the UK, India and Europe.
‘We sit here as an island that’s living like few countries in the world are at the moment,’ he told The Sunday Telegraph.
‘We have to be careful not to exchange that way of life for what everyone else has.’
Australians have been banned from leaving the country since March 2020 without special exemptions, and only citizens and permanent residents have been allowed to enter under some of the strictest Covid-19 border rules in the world.
Decision: The ITV series filmed in Gwrych Castle last year after the Covid-19 pandemic made it impossible for the show to travel safely to Australia (pictured in 2020)