A CASTLE’s Disney-esque vibe is among the key reasons it was picked as host of I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!

After weeks of speculation, ITV confirmed last Thursday that Abergele’s Gwrych Castle will play host to the 20th series of the popular reality show.

Kevin Lygo, director of television at ITV said: “The first aim was to get to Australia but when it became clear we weren’t going to make it, we were scouring the country for suitable locations.

“We found an extraordinary place, a beautiful Walt Disney castle, crumbling, tough and we just thought this looks like the place.

“I think it will be fascinating to see what audiences do and to come up with different challenges and tasks, the team I know are stimulated by this and thrilled about it.”

The fairytale Welsh castle is undergoing a huge restoration project.

The chance to host the hit show means works, in particularly emergency works which the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust has been carrying out since it purchased the site in 2018, can be fast-tracked.

Rhyl Journal:

Works, especially emergency works, can be fast-tracked. Picture: Gwrych Castle/Facebook

Dr Mark Baker, chair of trust, told the Journal: “It is a great honour they have chosen the castle. I think one of the motivations behind ITV coming is they see the building and the estate need a lot of help and support, so they would rather the money for the publicity goes to something will be of benefit and not just a commercial venture.

“So I think that was like part of their community pay back.

“The [Disney] quote is quite accurate. That was very kind of him.

“Since it has been confirmed, it has been very exciting; lots of people getting in touch and lots of support. It is going to give a great boost, particularly with what everyone has had to go through with lockdown.

“It is a nice feel of positivity.

“I think because it was quite unexpected, it is like an early Christmas gift from the castle.”

Speaking about whether it was hard to keep tight lipped prior to last week’s confirmation, Dr Baker said: “The negotiations went on for a very long time so it was really touch and go until the day before. Things kept changing with lock downs and so on and the situation in Australia. It was really very swift towards the end. It has been going on for months.

“I got an email quite a while ago. It probably could have been in May and June and at a time when ITV were considering their options.

“I thought it was just spam. You would, wouldn’t you?”

Rhyl Journal:

Kevin Lygo described the castle as 'an extraordinary place, a beautiful Walt Disney castle, crumbling, tough'.

Dr Baker admitted he has never seen the show.

“Before all this, in terms of an idea of what the show involved, I didn’t really have much of an idea,” he said.

“You hear culture references to it but I don’t really watch tv that much.”

One of Dr Baker’s conditions, for the castle to be used, was that jobs and opportunities were provided to people from the area.

Vacancies for several runner positions have been advertised on TVConwy Community Forum. Applications are being accepted from those that live in Abergele, Llandudno, Conwy, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Prestatyn, Wrexham and Chester.

Dr Baker is also delighted that Manorafon farm, which is located near to the castle, has been given a role - although what part they will play hasn’t been made clear.

The farm park is providing ITV ‘exclusive use’ of their site for the remainder of the 2020 season.

Rhyl Journal:

Dr Mark Baker

There has also been speculation that sites such as Zip World could be used for challenges as well as Bodysgallen Hotel and Spa for a reward.

Dr Baker, however, isn’t convinced.

“I’m not sure how similar it will be [in terms of insects and the bushtucker trials.] Whether they will try something new, old favourites or a mix of both,” he added.

“I don’t know if the challenges are going to be elsewhere, just because of the pandemic and keeping in bubbles.

“What is really good about the castle is that it is accessible off the A55 and can act as a really good bubble.

“It is all enclosed and really locked down.”

In preparations ahead of the show, Dr Baker said he wasn't aware of 'the technicalities'.

"It has just given us that kind of push to get things going," he added.

"From our side, it has been looking at what parts of the castle we would be working on and to bring those projects forward so from our perspective, it has really been just accelerating the programme of work."