While some live shows have managed to scrape by with skeleton crews and socially-distanced segments, such creative solutions for other programmes are simply not an option.
Britain’s Got Talent, Strictly Come Dancing and Love Island are just among a few of the reality TV goliaths that have been delayed, shortened or axed altogether as the Covid-19 pandemic continues across the globe.
Another programme with a sizeable question-mark hanging over its future is ITV’s winter staple I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!
On air since 2002, the three-week jungle survival show (usually based in New South Wales, Australia) has been a surefire ratings success (and thereby, a huge money-maker) for the channel. On every night for three weeks, and with a run-time over an hour, at its best I’m A Celeb can attract an average of 12 million viewers over a whole series.
The show has managed to remain on-screen even when other aspects have been in doubt – with I’m A Celeb carrying on (and achieving almost record ratings) when usual presenter Ant McPartlin chose to stand down from all hosting duties in 2018, leaving Holly Willoughby to host alongside Declan Donnelly.
With ITV’s other cash cow Love Island having already fallen victim to Covid-19, it would make sense for bosses to try and push ahead to bring I’m A Celeb to screens as usual. But with threats of a second coronavirus wave, lengthy international quarantine rules and flight restrictions, what could the classic reality show look like? We’ve done some digging.
Will I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! go ahead in 2020?
As mentioned previously, it only makes sense for bosses to push for the show to go ahead – and work on the latest series of the show starts far earlier than fans may anticipate.
In a Bafta masterclass held last year, celebrity producer Micky Van Praag explains the process of piecing together each series in time for its usual November kick-off begins at the very start of the year.
“I work on it alone during the early days,” she said. “The team then gradually builds up around April time, and we start looking at casting, but I’m by myself making the core of those decisions.”
It was reported in The Sun back in April that despite the ongoing lockdown, bosses at ITV had a business-as-usual attitude towards the upcoming series, expecting bookers to meet with agents and potential agents online
“ITV are certain lockdown will be well over by the time I’m A Celeb normally starts which is in November,” an insider said.
“Every year it’s a ratings smash and this year will more than likely be even bigger as the public will be desperate for some fresh and uplifting TV.
“ITV have started hiring crew as well as advertising for them Down Under.
“And bookers are still on the case with celebrities, holding meetings on the likes of Zoom.”
However, these plans may have since been thrown into disarray following updated quarantine rules in Australia.
When contacted by the Evening Standard, an ITV spokesperson said it was “too early to discuss plans for I’m a Celebrity.”
Where could the latest series of I’m a Celebrity… be held?
While the previous 19 iterations of the show have taken place in Australia, a flare-up of coronavirus cases in June saw the country close its borders to all international travellers.
And as the crisis continues to escalate in several other parts of the globe, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has since signalled that the borders may stay closed until mid 2021 – effectively ruling out the show’s usual location.
One solution is to use one of the locations seen in the other I’m A Celebrity franchises across the globe. Several versions, including the French, Australian and Hungarian editions of the programme, use the Kruger National Park in South Africa to film – but with cases in South Africa now surpassing that of the UK, this may also end up being ruled out.
The American and German versions have also filmed in Costa Rica, while the Indian version was filmed in Malaysia – which could all potentially be options, should quarantine restrictions eventually ease.
Another option which has been touted is sending contestants a little closer to home, with a source reporting to The Mirror that bosses are even considering Scotland as a possibility.
“Having I’m a Celebrity for three weeks in November is seen as a huge priority,” said the insider.
"Everyone hopes to get back to Australia but over there they are struggling massively with flare-ups resulting in second lock-downs. It simply may not be possible because of safety.
“A decision needs to be made next month – in the meantime, the team is looking at stately homes, castles, mansions in remote areas of Scotland and England to see if we could stage it here.
"A dark, cold and spooky version of the show would be good fun – it would certainly be different.”
Who could be in the I’m a Celebrity 2020 line-up?
As of yet, no-one has been confirmed to be heading to the jungle (or to Scotland) for I’m A Celeb’s 20th season, but there is certainly already an impressive list of names who have been linked to the show in spite of the ongoing uncertainty.
Tiger King breakout star Carole Baskin was reportedly offered “a big money sum” to participate in this year’s season, after the series had over 64 million views on Netflix.
“Jungle producers have made a formal approach and hope she will do it,” an insider told the Sun.
Another big name touted for this season is singer Jessie J, fresh from her break-up with Hollywood actor Channing Tatum
“Jessie’s been offered good money but isn’t sure that the show is for her,” a source told Sun Online. “She is keen to put her music first."
Football legends often find themselves linked to I’m a Celeb, following the success of former manager Harry Redknapp on the 2018 series. Former Manchester United forward Eric Cantona and Paul Merson, who recently starred in Harry’s Football Heroes, are also thought to be in the mix.
Comedian and prime-time presenter Vernon Kay is the first celebrity to have reportedly signed “a £250,000 contract” to star while his wife Tess Daly fronts BBC rival Strictly Come Dancing.
"Everyone’s so pleased to have Vernon on board,” an insider told The Mirror. “He’s a lovely guy, full of down-to-earth northern charm and perfect for the show."
I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! is set to air later this year on ITV