I’m A Celebrity stars evacuated after 100ft tree crashes into castle & show may be off for days


I’M A Celeb’s contestants were evacuated last night as the show was forced off air for the first time after Storm Arwen sent a 100ft tree crashing into a wall of Gwrych Castle. 

They had initially hunkered down inside when ITV bosses were forced to clear crew from the site after howling 80mph winds wreaked havoc.

I’m A Celebrity was last night forced off air for the first time in its history after Storm Arwen sent a 100ft tree crashing into the wall of Gwrych Castle
Terrified celebs hunkered down inside as ITV bosses were forced to evacuate the show’s crew after howling 80mph winds wreaked havoc

Safety crews and tree surgeons assess the damage where the 100ft tree smashed into the castle wall

But the stars were dramatically whisked out of camp last night amid safety fears at the castle.

I’m A Celeb officials last night confirmed the move “while we get the production base back up”.

 Sources said the celebs will return to pre-show quarantine measures to make sure they remain Covid-secure.

One added: “This move has been taken to speed up the show’s possible return to the screen. Once the site is all safe and ready to film, they’ll return.”

Gales at the site whipped up potentially deadly flying debris, uprooted trees and ripped through a 200ft production tent — sending the structure crashing into the medical unit. 

As the tree was lifted by the wind and smashed into the castle ramparts, a second, also 100ft tall, was flung through the air, ending up on a path near Cledwyn’s Kiosk.

With only a skeleton team of staff left on set and vital technical equipment damaged, production chiefs had no choice but to haul the show — hosted by Ant and Dec — off air for two nights.

Last night, the pair posted a video message to fans on Twitter.

Ant joked they were “live from my cottage kitchen” in Wales.

Dec said: “This is the best we can do at the minute because we can’t get into site, into the camp, so we don’t have a live show for you tonight or tomorrow night.”

Ant added: “How about we get a Saturday night takeaway and watch I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here on the telly tonight in my cottage? Shall we do that?”

Dec replied: “What a great idea, let’s do that.” Ironically, he had jokingly promised on Friday’s show they wouldn’t have to run a highlights programme the next day — not realising he’d be proved wrong.

Safety teams were seen scrambling to secure the site yesterday, with tree surgeons spotted examining the uprooted trees and the castle woodland for signs of instability.

An ITV spokesman last night said: “Owing to technical difficulties caused by extreme weather conditions in the area, there will be no new episodes of I’m A Celebrity this weekend.”

He added that the show would be temporarily replaced by a “Best Of” compilation voiced by Ant and Dec and featuring highlights of past series.

And insiders told of fears that the show’s return to the screen could be delayed further as the scale of damage done to technical equipment is still unknown.

A source said: “This is a crushing blow. No one anticipated the disaster that this storm would cause and it has completely blindsided us.

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“The worst damage is to one of our three production areas — the tent where we keep the scanners, the TV editing suite, the production office and our IT equipment. From the outside, it is wrecked. 

“At the moment, we still don’t know what the damage done to the equipment is, as we can’t go in until it has been declared safe. 

“But we need time to get everything fixed and the break buys us some time. We are hoping against hope it will be enough and that we can return on Monday.

“To go ahead then, we also need the green light to bring more staff back on set. But at the moment, nothing is guaranteed.”

The production unit’s marquee was lifted and blown onto the medical unit

Terrified crew escaped before the unit’s marquee crashed down

Damage caused by the 80mph winds is clear

HOAR told yesterday how bosses had been forced to cancel the show’s live recording on Friday night, replacing it with pre-recorded footage. Chiefs had realised the gales would interrupt the show’s live link. But as the storm intensified overnight, fears grew for the safety of the show team. __

A backstage insider said: “It was hell for staff outside the main camp and they briefly lost power. Last year they got away with the weather, so it was a new ordeal for everyone to deal with.”

Sources yesterday told how the celebrity campmates avoided the worst of the storm, as their part of the castle is shielded by the rock it is built into. But they said the stars were nevertheless left shaken by the raging weather conditions.

TV presenter Richard Madeley, 65, escaped the mayhem after he left the show following a “funny turn” on Thursday, but is “fine”. 

A source said: “The show’s production sites are separate from the castle and have very little protection from the elements, so they were vulnerable to this.

“Thankfully, the way the castle is built into the landscape means that it is shielded on both sides by the rock faces that surround it. Otherwise, we could have well had to evacuate the celebrities, too. 

“As it is, they have had a horrible, frightening night, with the screaming, freezing wind and horrendous crashes and bangs echoing all around the castle. 

“Several of them had been left quite shaken by it all. Staff had been checking in to make sure they are OK.”

Yesterday, the castle location site, which is normally packed with crew members and visitors, was reduced to a near ghost town.

The few staff still on-site remained in the two undamaged production units, which are both solid structures and declared safe. And one source told how today will see the beginning of a massive operation to make the filming site safe to return to full-scale operations. They said: “The safety of everyone who works on the show is our priority, so every precaution possible is being taken before the team are brought back.”

It is the first time the hit show has had to be taken off the air in 21 series since it started in 2002.

In 2015, I’m A Celebrity’s jungle stars were evacuated from the camp after an electrical storm hit Australia’s Sunshine Coast. 

And in 2019, the camp was once again evacuated during a storm. 

The terrified celebs were left to shelter inside, as crew members were evacuated from the castle
Richard Madeley got out before the storm smashed into the castle

Ant and Dec took to Twitter to reveal the live show was cancelled while the storm continued to batter the castle camp

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