Preparations have begun in for the 2021 series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here.
The ITV show will be filmed for a second year at Abergele’s Gwrych Castle, with Covid preventing a return to the Australian jungle.
The Conwy county castle has now been closed to the public in order for TV producers to begin filming for the series.
A new book details the work that went into converting the derelict Grade I listed castle for the show.
It reveals that the show’s production team consists of 500 people, many of whom worked in a massive tent erected in the castle grounds.
When some guy ropes came loose on a windy day, the crew had to leave their offices for a short time.
It also claims that the celebrities’ sleeping and living quarters had to be roofed over due to the Welsh weather, which necessitated the construction of a special chimney and extractor to remove fumes from the camp fire.
The celebrities’ trials, in which they complete tasks involving insects or unpleasant foods, were actually filmed well after midnight due to the filming schedule.
A separate kitchen was set up away from the main staff canteen to prepare dishes like fermented duck eggs and blended vomit fruit.
Mark Baker, chairman of the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, which owns the castle, collaborated on the souvenir guidebook.
“It was a huge task to turn a derelict and sometimes dangerous ruin into a TV set,” he explained.
“It was just extraordinary how they repurposed many of the interior spaces in the historic building – it wasn’t just all fake sets, they used the actual castle, and it’s quite exciting to show people how that happened,” says the director.
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He described ITV as “incredibly sensitive to the history and fabric of the place,” as well as to Welsh culture.
“”It was lovely to work with them, and exciting to work with them again this autumn,” said one of the staff members.
The recent sighting of a crane atop the castle has fueled speculation that new areas of the castle may appear in the 2021 series.
According to sources close to the show, the most prominent Welsh character, Kiosk Cledwyn, will return to the screen to give the celebrities luxury rewards if they succeed in challenges.
Preparations have also begun in Abergele, where the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust has established a souvenir shop to sell merchandise while the castle is closed to visitors for filming.
In the shop, you can also see the throne on which Giovanna Fletcher was crowned queen of the castle at the end of the 2020 series.
Businesses in Abergele hoped that the programme would boost trade and create a buzz in the community.
Tracey Brennan, owner of The Veg Shop in town, said she couldn’t wait.
“It’s been such a bad trading year, and when last year’s show came out, we were all on lockdown,” she explained.
“After being closed down for much of last winter, we can now look forward to a period with more visitors and footfall, and try to recoup losses from earlier in the year.
“We’ve already seen a number of tourists who have expressed an interest in returning in the winter and have inquired as to the best location to view the castle.
“Something between autumn and Christmas will be needed to lift people’s spirits.
“We can’t wait to see the celebrities, and we’re hoping to see a few more of them in town this year.”
Conwy council has put plans in place to improve safety on the roads in the area, where a woman was killed during last year’s show after being hit by a car while trying to take a photo of the castle.
It also hopes that the show’s producers will consider including other locations in north Wales.
“We’re delighted the show is being filmed in Abergele again, and we’re looking forward to seeing some familiar locations on national TV,” said Louise Emery, cabinet member for the economy.
Because the Covid restrictions will be reduced this year, we’re quietly hoping that the production team will be able to film more in the surrounding area.
“Conwy County’s mountains, coast, and landscapes lend themselves to all kinds of creative challenges for the celebrities – who knows what we’ll see.
“This year’s show has already benefited the local economy. It’s been great to see local businesses providing catering and other services to the production crew as they begin to prepare the castle.
“We’re hoping that the economic benefits will last long after the show has ended and the celebrities have gone home.”