I’m A Celebrity simply never goes out of style.
Whether it’s set in the Australian jungle or a Welsh castle, it never gets old watching famous folk get covered in creepy crawlies and battle through terrifying (or simply gross) Bushtucker Trials.
The hit ITV reality show began in 2002 – and for 19 years, it’s brought romance, drama, gossip and some seriously unforgettable TV moments to our screens.
But it’s been nearly two decades since it began, so you’d be forgiven for forgetting who was in I’m A Celebrity’s first series – and who was crowned the first ever winner.
Hell, perhaps you’re an avid fan of the 2021 series, but were simply too young to even be aware of the show in 2002.
Whatever the case, let’s take a look back at the first-ever crowning of Jungle royalty…
Who won the first series of I’m A Celebrity?
It was a toss-up between two contestants for the first ever I’m A Celebrity King or Queen of the Jungle.
On finale day – September 8, 2002 – it was revealed that BBC Radio 1 presenter Tony Blackburn had won the crown.
DJ Tony, then aged 59, inspired 55% of the public vote – which a fresh-faced Ant & Dec revealed in camp amounted to 1.5 million phone calls.
When Tony heard he’d won, he exclaimed: ‘Oh, I’m so delighted! That’s so unexpected.’
Meanwhile, socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson aka ‘TPT’ snatched up 45% of the public vote. She was a gracious runner-up, giving Tony a hug when it was revealed he’d won the series.
It’s hard to believe that nearly two decades have passed since the first ever I’m A Celebrity winner was announced.
The OG king, Tony, is now 78 years old. Very sadly, Tara died of a brain tumour and rare autoimmune illness in 2017 aged 45.
Which other celebrities featured in the 2002 line up?
Champion celebrities Tony and Tara were joined by six other stars for the very first series of the show.
Illusionist and self-professed psychic Uri Geller, boxer Nigel Benn and actor Darren Day were the first three campmates to be sent home from camp by the public vote.
Scottish comedian Rhona Cameron lasted a little bit longer in fifth place, while glamour model Nell McAndrew came in fourth.
The third-place runner-up was Christine Hamilton. She was well-known as a media personality, and as wife of Neil Harrison, a former Conservative MP for Tatton. Currently, he’s the leader of UKIP.
I’m A Celebrity’s first series earned it a BAFTA for Best Entertainment Programme in 2003. The show’s since won a bunch of awards – including another BAFTA in 2005.
I’m A Celebrity airs daily at 9pm on ITV.