‘I’m a Celeb’ is back again in 2021 for its yearly winter run, and my initial thought when looking at the press coverage of the build-up to its launch was, how is this show still running? With an air date that goes back to 2002 and a current total of 20 seasons, what is the appeal of this beloved show and why, specifically this season raised questions, this show may be nearing its end? Whilst it may seem like nit-picking, many articles, such as from Digital Spy, show that the series has shown record-breaking low viewership.
“I’m A Celebrity viewers down by millions compared to last series”
Especially in this season, there have been questions about the practicality of the location of the new seasons of ‘I’m a Celeb’. Due to the pandemic, the show was forced to re-locate to North Wales instead of Australia which at first excited me because not only was it a change, but it was also now in my home country!
However, being in the UK (especially in Wales), there’s the risk of horrendous weather and although there is central heating, being placed in a semi-run-down castle inevitably means freezing nights and torrential rain. Whilst they didn’t encounter this problem last year, the past two episodes have been cancelled due to the damage caused by storm Arwen – a winter storm that had strong wind and harsh snow. Even though this has supposedly been fixed, who is to say that it won’t happen again?
And there’s another issue of the health of the celebrities and the crew as the whole concept of the show is to be out in the wilderness with very limited resources. Richard Madeley had to be rushed to the hospital due to what he thought was dehydration. However, it seemed to be a mix of this and the coldness of the set, stating himself that, “I actually snuggled into my sleeping bag, it was freezing”. This was never a problem for the Australian set, for obvious reasons, but the relocation of Wales has created opportunities for more disruption and risks.
“I actually snuggled into my sleeping bag, it was freezing”.Richard Madeley
Another issue I have with the recent seasons is the lack of personality from the celebrities. A staple of these kinds of shows (‘I’m a Celeb’, ‘Big Brother’, etc) is the tension and conflict between the campmates or their problem with the trials. We had the iconic Lady C who refused to do trials or Gemma Collins who dramatically exited only 3 days in.
Its personality that makes these shows entertaining as it contrasts with our own mundanity, but in the past 3 years we’ve had campmates that got along with no problems. Now, whilst this is of course nicer, it can lead to boring television. It’s those ‘funniest moments’ videos on YouTube that people go back to and love, but in the past few seasons, I simply couldn’t tell you who the contestants were and when they stood out.
Although this isn’t the show’s fault, it may just be the case that money no longer entices these celebrities to sign up – no amount of money would make me eat fisheyes and touch tarantulas! This also adds to the lack of surprise in the trial concepts too.
Before, the disgusting eating challenge shocked and captured viewers, but now personally I think that it’s lost its wow factor because it’s in every season and we continue to see the same reactions. This may just be me being picky, but in my opinion, new and wacky concepts for Bushtucker trials are well and truly needed.
However, regardless of the time I have just spent criticising the show, it is still a show that I’ll always go back to for its best bits and early days. The whole comfort of the build-up to Christmas is snuggling up with family in the evenings/nights and watching some good telly. From ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ to ‘I’m a Celebrity’ to ‘Bake Off’, there is just so much to watch and keep us entertained. It’s something to do on the dark Christmas nights but then again, maybe it’s the fact that it’s on every year that dulls the entertainment?
This sadly happened with ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ because its frequent appearance on TV led to its audience becoming bored and so subsequently lead to its cancellation. The same thing seems to be happening with ‘Love Island’ and now ‘I’m a Celeb’ is in danger. I talk to more and more people who I know watch it every year and they all tell me that they simply can’t be bothered anymore and so have stopped watching it.
‘I’m a Celeb’ is a show that depends on personality, character and its wacky trials to shine and without these factors, it becomes boring really quickly. Campmates that get on and trials we have seen a million times are just not engaging anymore and people love to see the drama. Whilst I’d hate to see it disappear completely, if it continues with this redundant pattern, then the viewership may just continue to go down and cancellation may be the only remaining option.
Words by: Olivia Davies
Edited by: Ella Dyer