Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun and games
Spiders, midnight calls and bickering might not sound appealing, but the I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! NOW! presenters are itching for series 14 Jeananne Craig meets the excited jungle bunch
In a shiny office, thousands of miles from the Australian jungle, comedian Rob Beckett is nursing an injury: a perfectly round red patch, bang in the middle of his forehead.
“I’ve got to get married on Saturday! I’m a bit worried it won’t go in time,” he says ruefully.
“It was an accident. I’ve got a little plunger thing that I use to prop up my phone, and I got bored and started putting it on my head last night...”
It’s a busy couple of months for Beckett. After the big day, he’s jetting Down Under to front a new series of I’m A Celebrity’s ITV2 spin-off show Get Me Out Of Here! NOW!, alongside Irish presenter Laura Whitmore and former show winner Joe Swash.
Freak forehead incidents aside, the trio’s excitement is palpable as they giggle, talk over each other and exclaim their way through our interview.
“It’s like a back-to-school feeling. We don’t know who’s going in, so it’s like we don’t know what teachers or what subjects we’re going to get,” enthuses 29-year-old Whitmore, who interviews the contestants once they’ve left the jungle.
“I’m like, ‘Where the hell am I going to get some summer dresses in this weather?’ But it’s actually perfect timing. November’s not the best month to be [in the UK], and then we’re back just in time for Christmas.”
At the time of our interview, the presenters insist they know nothing about this year’s celebrity line-up, although Whitmore has her eyes on Simon Cowell as a dream contestant.
“Because he’s always the boss, and always in comfortable situations. I like to see people out of their comfort zone. I’d love to see Ant and Dec in there too, but they won’t ever.”
“It’s normally the dynamic more than the person,” Beckett adds. “You have someone with a big name go in and you think they’ll be amazing, but you never know once they’re in there. So as long as we’ve got someone who’s loud, someone who’s quiet, someone tidy, someone messy, you know those people will clash with each other.”
Ex-EastEnder Swash, 32, was crowned king of the jungle in 2008 after winning viewers over with his happy-go-lucky attitude and friendship with Star Trek’s George Takei.
During his stint, he passed the time collecting wood for the camp, and recommends this year’s celebs keep busy to avoid conflict.
“You need to do something, because if you’re not doing trials, you’re just stuck in the camp all day, and that’s what breeds hatred and makes you want to kill people. It’s a jungle in there, it’s like a big playground!” he adds. “There are animals, there are dams to be made, and I was younger then, so I was interested in everything.
“There are so many different characters, you find out about people. I’m quite nosy, so I want to know about people and their lives.”
On the spin-off show, former jungle king Swash gamely tries out some of the bushtucker trials.
“I couldn’t do them in England,” he says, before gesturing to a platter of fresh fruit. “I couldn’t even eat that strawberry, because I don’t like hairy fruit, but in Australia I’ll eat a fermented egg. It’s my little mission now not to say no to anything. I haven’t said no yet. And it’s nice to push yourself.”
Whitmore and Beckett, meanwhile, are happy to watch proceedings from a safe distance.
“I do the best job in the world - I get to see [the camp], and talk about it, and then I get to go back to my nice hotel,” says Whitmore.
I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! returns to ITV, and I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! NOW! returns to ITV2 on Sunday, November 16