November 19, 2020
Despite its relocation to wintry Wales, seeing the contestants on the ITV reality series bond provides vicarious comfort – and is proving a ratings winner
A glorious, pandemic-free bubble: how I’m a Celebrity is bringing levity to lockdown
As the days draw in and the dark of winter approaches, it may seem odd to suggest that the best place to find intimacy and joy on TV is a reality contest that has been on air since 2002. Yet, this series of I’m a Celebrity is providing its viewers with exactly that, proving a surprise ratings hit.This year, the show’s location is a Grade I-listed, 19th-century country house in north Wales, rather than the Australian jungle of previous years, but the format is much the same. The stomach-churning bushtucker trials are still taking place, terrified contestants writhing among snakes or munching on unappealing animal parts. It does not sound like comfort viewing. But the shift from the sun of Australia to the gloom of the UK makes it all the more relatable for those of us whose annual leave was spent staring at four walls. Instead of watching celebrities lounge around as they work on their tans, we can see them shivering like the rest of us, in this gruelling lockdown. But, unlike us, they can touch one another: following a period of pre-show isolation, they now exist in a glorious, pandemic-free bubble.
Related: I'm a Celebrity … Get Me into Wales! Fans flock to Abergele as TV show comes to town
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