Shane Richie, 56, is said to have signed up to star in this year’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, as a result of theatre closures around the country and film productions being brought to a halt. The in-demand actor, who usually has a packed schedule, is rumoured to have long wanted to join the contest, but could not make the timing work until now when the programme decided to film in Wales due to travel restrictions.
A source told The Sun: “ITV have always wanted Shane for the jungle but with panto not happening this year and other work opportunities less likely, he decided this was the time to take the plunge.
“Going to North Wales is less of a huge commitment than flying halfway across the world, too, so he jumped at the chance.
“He’s already being talked about by production as an early favourite as he’s such a likeable bloke and known to millions of soap fans. ITV are delighted they’ve managed to convince him to take part.”
In the past, I’m A Celebrity has filmed in the Australian jungle for up to three weeks, however owing to flight restrictions and social distancing guidelines, this year the programme will be filmed in Wales.
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The campmates will spend two weeks in isolation before they begin shooting the new series at Gwrych Castle.
Shane will be following in the footsteps of the ever-growing list of EastEnders alumni who have appeared on I’m a Celebrity, including three past winners: Charlie Brooks (2012), Joe Swash (2009) and the reigning queen of the jungle Jacqueline Jossa.
There have also been reports that recent EastEnders star Jessica Plummer (Chantelle Atkins) will be among the contestants when I’m a Celebrity season 20 debuts.
A representative of Shane has been contacted by Express.co.uk for comment.
An insider told the newspaper: “The ITV executives were desperate to bag Mo and will have spent big to get their man.
“It’s a massive coup for producers to get Mo for the series. Everyone’s really excited about the signing and think he’ll be a hit with viewers.
“It’s the first time he’s agreed to do anything like this, so it’ll be a massive draw for sports fans.”
Although none of the celebrities has yet confirmed their involvement, it is thought that Mo could be a late addition to the programme with the source claiming the athlete is a “big fan” of the show.