I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here could put a quiet North Wales town on the map, locals hope.
Gwrych Castle has been officially announced as the new location for the reality television series but residents in Abergele have been discussing the news for weeks since the castle grounds were closed and TV production crews were first seen driving through the town’s high street.
On Thursday, a large crane could be seen in the grey skies above the 19th century castle and a sign outside told visitors the entire estate was closed to the public.
Awen Williams, 47, who owns Caffi Crempog in the town, said she had mentioned the castle as a possible location to partner Helen Lancaster, 57, when ITV announced the show would not be returning to Australia this year because of coronavirus travel restrictions.
“She said ‘don’t be daft, they’re not coming to Abergele’, but now it is on the cards,” Ms Williams told the PA news agency.
“We have seen vans going past with ITV crew and cranes going up over the castle.
“I’m hoping Tom Hardy might be one of the celebrities, or Gerard Butler.
“It’s going to put Abergele on the map, it will be great. It’s just the weather that’s going to be the issue, they’ll be in wetsuits not bikinis!”
Ms Lancaster added: “It’s nice for them to come to this end of Wales.”
Angela James, 57, who works in Cumberland House Bakery, had taken a picture of a film production van which stopped at traffic lights outside the shop two weeks ago.
She said: “I never watch it but I will this time.
“Hopefully it will be good for the town because people will just come for a ride out to see it.”
— John Challis (@BeingBoycie) August 27, 2020
Claire Kinsella, 47, owner of the Indigo shop, said: “It’ll be different and hopefully it’ll bring more tourists.
“I have customers who regularly walk their dogs round there but I think some parts have been closed off recently.”
The castle, on a hill overlooking the A55 bypass, is next to Abergele Golf Club and Manorafan Farm Park.
Following the news, a post on the golf club’s Twitter account said: “So here it is… the announcement we have all been waiting for. How exciting for our area!
“We can’t wait to be neighbours to @antanddec with the cast and crew of @imacelebrity. Putting Abergele on the map.”
Wales has over 600 castles, some of which have been returned back to nature, but Gwrych has to be a favourite 🏰
📸 by elizabeth_northwales pic.twitter.com/bVJKcOkErF
— Visit North Wales (@VisitNorthWales) August 15, 2020
Keith Rowlands, 58, who runs an antique and watch repair shop in the town, said he was sure he’d get to see the crew and celebrities once filming started.
He said: “They’re bound to be in here. I watch it now and again but the wife is always watching it.”
However, not all of the locals were excited by the news.
John Pollard, 87, who was waiting for his wife to come out of the hairdressers, said: “I never watch it.
“I have read the headlines in the local paper. Maybe I should watch it this year, seeing as it’s coming from there.”