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'I'm A Celebrity' 2020: Everything you need to know about Gwrych Castle

Amy Johnson
·4-min read
A view of Gwyrch Castle as it prepares for ITV reality TV show "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here" on November 03, 2020 in Abergele, Wales. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A view of Gwyrch Castle as it prepares for ITV reality TV show "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here" on November 03, 2020 in Abergele, Wales. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The coronavirus has forced I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! to set up camp a bit closer to home in 2020 instead of the Australian wilderness as it has done for 18 years.

Now, the series is set in the rather different surroundings of Gwrych Castle near Abergele, north Wales due to travel restrictions.

It means that for the very first time there will be either a King or Queen of the Castle, instead of the Jungle.

Read more: I’m A Celebrity 2020 full line-up

Of course there has been a lot of interest in Gwrych Castle as a result, so what do we know about the new location?

A general view of Castell Gwyrch on August 14, 2020 in Abergele, Wales. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A general view of Castell Gwyrch on August 14, 2020 in Abergele, Wales. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The property has an interesting history as a Grade 1 listed country house dating back to the early 19th Century, when it was built between 1812 and 1822 by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh as a memorial to his mother's ancestors the Lloyds of Gwrych.

The castle’s website states it later passed to the Earls of Dundonald and was requisitioned as part of Operation Kindertransport during World War II prior to being sold by the Dundonald Family in 1946.

Leslie Salts later ran the castle for twenty years between 1948 and 1968 earning it the nickname 'Showplace of Wales' before it was repurposed as a medieval entertainment centre which closed its doors in 1987.

The Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust bought the derelict building in 2018 for £1 million after an American buyer’s plans for a hotel never materialised.

Watch: I’m A Celebrity reveals the 2020 line-up

Now it’s set to host one the UK’s best loved reality shows, however, it may never have been the location this year at all if ITV didn’t try and contact castle bosses multiple times.

Founder of the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust Mark Baker thought it was a hoax when the I'm A Celeb team got in touch.

He told Radio Times: “It mentioned a major proposal for a television programme, asking me to call urgently. But in my job I get loads of strange emails from people claiming to be princes of Egypt with millions of pounds.

“I thought it was one of those, so I just left it.”

Luckily, ITV got back in touch to seal the deal with the fee for the castle’s usage reportedly standing at £300,000.

Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly in a promotional still for I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! (ITV)
Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly in a promotional still for I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! (ITV)

Baker is hoping to restore the castle and open it to the public after some intense rebuilds.

Its state of disrepair was brought to attention back in October when an appeal was launched to restore a water supply and electricity to the castle. A GoFundMe page was set up for the historic site in the hopes of raising £50,000.

Read more: I’m A Celebrity’s coronavirus management plan revealed

The reality show is using generators and water tanks during filming to supply the necessary electricity and water after carrying out a few “urgent works”.

Meanwhile, local business and residents have shown their support for the ITV programme by welcoming cast and crew to Abergele.

Shops and businesses in Abergele decorate their windows to welcome the cast of ITV's reality TV show "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here" which will be filmed at nearby Gwyrch Castle on November 03, 2020 in Abergele, Wales. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Shops and businesses in Abergele decorate their windows to welcome the cast of ITV's reality TV show "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here" which will be filmed at nearby Gwyrch Castle on November 03, 2020 in Abergele, Wales. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Some locals have also claimed the castle is haunted. Graham Jones, who previously worked as a Knight of Gwrych when the castle was used for battle re-enactments and jousting in the 1970s to early 90s, reckons he saw some other-worldly goings on there.

"People have said there's a woman in white who has been seen riding around," he told BBC News.

"My friend Steve worked as a security guard at the castle and once or twice he went into the kitchen down some steps and heard someone behind him - he could feel their breath on the back of his neck. But no-one was there."

He also said he had once glimpsed the ghost of an old woman in the castle, whom he later recognised in a photo of old staff.

Read more: Giovanna Fletcher’s brother Mario Falcone tips her to win I’m A Celeb

Viewers will have to wait and see if this year’s campmates end up experiencing any ghostly goings-on.

The set of the programme is remaining tightly under wraps until the show launches on Sunday 15 November, although hosts Ant and Dec did give fans a small preview.

Watch: Ant and Dec get lost in Wales in I’m A Celeb trailer