Ant and Dec’s constant taunting of Boris Johnson throughout this year’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! was brilliant, much-needed telly, but the fact it was the best part of the series? It’s left us feeling a little cold, much like the celebs in Wales.
The 2021 edition was, quite simply, a cacophony of chaos, from Richard Madeley being forced to quit after a hospital trip and Storm Arwen taking the show off air to intruders and lacklustre trials – not to mention live animals are still being used.
Now that Danny Miller has been crowned the first King of the Castle and the show has been put to bed for another year, it’s easy to see why fans are pleading with bosses to move the show back to the Australian jungle.
But the move back to Oz is just one of several changes needed if the series wants to survive.
It was announced in August that the ITV show would be returning to Gwrych Castle in North Wales for a second year amid ongoing uncertainty around international travel. This could have been a catalyst for giving the format a make-over to avoid the novelty of the castle wearing off, but it wasn’t.
For the first time in the show’s 19-year history, the series went off the air for three days as a result of Storm Arwen wreaking havoc and causing damage to the set.
The celebrities were also evacuated from the castle as a precaution and taken to separate locations without phones, internet, or TVs.
Of course, the storm was no fault of the producers, but it did impact the flow of the series as a whole.
One could argue this could have been avoided, though. A simple solution would have been not to film the series in freezing cold Wales in the middle of winter. It’s universally acknowledged that the UK weather is unpredictable and, given the Covid travel uncertainty as well, surely it would have been better to delay the series until the summer months?
Also, if I’m A Celebrity had been postponed until summer, we might have been in a safer situation pandemic-wise, resulting in fewer restrictions and no safety bubbles.
I’m A Celeb’s 2021 run suffered a massive blow when Good Morning Britain’s Richard was forced to quit after going to hospital with a sudden illness. He broke the Covid ‘bubble’ by leaving the caste, with the show going off-air just days later.
Richard, the king of awkward but hysterical TV moments, was this year’s big-ticket star, the celebrity that was signed up to keep the series at its entertaining, awkward best.
Sadly though, his time was cut short, and the entertainment fell flat. Instead, we had Simon Gregson farting.
Farting aside, this year’s batch of contestants was strong on paper, but there was something missing. Compared to the 2020 cohort, the group didn’t gel quite in the same way, with Naughty Boy clashing with David Ginola and Adam Woodyatt. While tensions have previously been a point of interest, this friction wasn’t as enjoyable to watch. It was uncomfortable and tedious.
Now is also the ideal time for ITV bosses to reconsider using live animals in trials. No longer is it morally acceptable to involve them and no longer is it entertaining.
Over the years, viewers and animal charities alike have expressed concern that the welfare of the critters, reptiles and other livestock used in the challenges is compromised. This concern has ramped up in recent months, with the likes of Peta campaigning for a boycott of the show altogether.
While producers ensure that animal welfare law is adhered to on its production and ITV implements rigorous production practices to ensure that animals are handled safely before, during, and after the filming period, viewer attitudes are changing.
Many are also tired of tuning in and seeing the same animal-led trials all the time, with dwindling ratings suggesting it is high time for a shake-up.
One TV producer previously told Metro.co.uk that coming up with new challenges shouldn’t even take that long to do, so what’s the hold-up?
The only saving grace of the series were presenters Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, who deserve to be in the running for Bafta’s must-see moment at next year’s awards with their ‘Evening Prime Minister’ gags.
Their relentless mocking and calling out of Mr Johnson was downright hilarious TV as they masterfully brought Government controversies to an audience who otherwise might not have been keeping up with political fiascos.
Last week, they craftily referenced the Government Christmas party scandal as Louise Minchin was announced as the new camp leader.
‘But they weren’t celebrating,’ Ant stated. ‘They categorically deny any suggestions that they had a party. And this fictional party definitely didn’t involve cheese and wine, or a secret Santa.’
‘Evening Prime Minister… for now,’ Dec added.
They continued their jibes into the grand finale too, joking that Mr Johnson had signed up to appear on the series next year as Dec held up a campmate T-shirt with his name printed on it.
Now, there’s an idea that would no doubt increase viewership.
But Ant and Dec and their funny quips aren’t enough to rake in audiences alone. A revamp is clearly needed to entice viewers back in front of their television screens each night for three weeks.
If changes aren’t made and next year is a copy and paste job, then I’m A Celebrity can literally get out of here. For good.
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! is available to stream on the ITV Hub.