By Fflur Trevor | @Caerdydd Editor
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, filming of many of our favourite shows and films have been cancelled or postponed. These include the beloved Love Island, EastEnders and Call the Midwife, to name but a few.
However, it seems that the time of dire television is almost over.
On July 30, ITV confirmed that series 20 of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here will return later this year. Despite this, there will be some changes to how the renowned reality tv show usually works.
The most notable change is that the iconic series, which is traditionally located in Australia, will be unable to fly crew and cast to the country due to travel restrictions, and instead will have a location much closer to home.
Where is the new location?
After production of the new series was confirmed by ITV producers, rumours began circulating about the new filming location, from South America to Portugal. The most popular location rumour, however, was that the newest series would be filmed in Gwrych Castle in North Wales.
The castle, which was built between 1812 and 1822 on the grounds of a medieval fortress in Abergele as a memorial to the owner Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh’s maternal ancestors, was the rumoured location favoured by many tabloid reporters.
Speculation intensified when a statement from Gwrych Castle from their social media page read:
“Gwrych Castle and Estate will be temporarily closing to the public at 5pm on Sunday 23rd August until New Year”
Rumours began to fly, as this period of weeks is roughly the same timeline many would expect if filming of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here was occurring.
Speculation has since been confirmed by ITV bosses, as it has officially been revealed that the series will be filming in Gwrych Castle.
Moreover, the winner of the series will be crowned King or Queen of the castle rather than jungle, as is customary most years as when the series takes place in Australia.
Although this change from tradition seemed like it may have fallen flat, it’s caused some excitement amongst fans, with many believing this change has made the UK’s most popular reality show more interesting than ever.
“We’re extremely pleased to welcome such a large production to Wales, offering a chance to showcase a spectacular part of our country to significant audiences across the UK.” Lord Elis Thomas, the Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism said recently.
Who will participate?
The celebrity line-up for this year is unconfirmed, however, the rumoured contestants consist of an eclectic group of people ranging from Jeremy Clarkson to Katherine Jenkins and even Carole Baskin, the notorious enemy of the infamous Joe Exotic from hit Netflix docu-series, Tiger King.
However, only time will reveal the identity of the celebrities in this distinctive series.
How will the change affect Wales?
The setting of I’m a Celebrity this year is obviously far from the norm. Rather than having nights filled with horrendous heat as would be expected in the jungles of Australia, this years’ contestants will face a harsh Welsh winter.
But how will having I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here take place in North Wales affect Wales?
For some, it could be a great benefit. It’s been reported by WalesOnline that the I’m a Celebrity crew are looking for runners to work behind the scenes on the new series.
Although the job listing advertises that the crew is looking for runners – it also states that applications will only be accepted from those living in seven towns near Abergele, including Llandudno and Rhyl.
Of course, setting this years’ series in North Wales will surely boost tourism in the Abergele area, with Chair of the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust, Dr Mark Baker stating,
“I’m absolutely delighted that I’m A Celebrity has chosen Gwrych Castle to be its UK location for the 2020 series. I’m A Celebrity being here will really help support Gwrych Castle and its ongoing restoration as well as giving the region a much-needed economic boost.”
The Welsh Government was one of the first to welcome I’m a Celebrity to Wales, and although there is no exact figure as of yet as to how much the series could boost the local economy.
Ifan Morgan Jones wrote recently for Nation Cymru of his worries surrounding the way Wales is often portrayed in television and film.
Despite the fact that the filming could help boost the local economy, Jones noted he was worried setting I’m a Celebrity in North Wales could encourage the perpetuation of “lazy” Welsh stereotypes.
He noted he was concerned there would be numerous gags about “the unpronounceability of Welsh place names, the dangers of ‘backwards’ rural Welsh people, and lots of sexual promiscuity surrounding sheep”. Jones also noted it is important to avoid criticising the Welsh language, stating,
“Just because you can’t understand Welsh doesn’t mean that it isn’t a real language. No one can understand languages they don’t speak – that’s how they work“
Although the series will boost the amount of people who might visit the castle and the surrounding area in years to come, there is concern that jokes targeting Welsh culture and the language could encourage negative clichés.
Despite the vast conversation surrounding the use of a Welsh castle in North Wales as the setting for this series, there’s no doubt it is much anticipated.
Many other television programmes have had to adapt to the new working environment this year, but there’s no doubt I’m a Celebrity‘s approach may be the most unique to date. .
Undoubtedly, the new location and the exciting rumoured line-up is sure to peak interests and pull in a big audience. It could be the most unforgettable year of its 20-series tenure.