I’m the first to scream at the telly watching terrified celebs tackle the toughest bushtucker trials Ant and Dec can throw at them. But how hard can they really be?
From Radio 1’s Jordan North imagining his “happy place” Turf Moor (Burnley FC’s ground), to the squeals and screams of Corrie’s Helen Flanagan and Royal butler Paul Burrell, there are few of us who haven’t thought we could do better and bring back more stars to the jungle camp.
So if you have ever wanted to stand on that jungle bridge and scream “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here”, now is your chance.
And you won’t have to travel all the way to Australia to do it. ITV have recreated the jungle experience in the heart of sunny Salford – complete with bush tucker trials, Kiosk Kev and of course the Jungle throne for whoever is crowned King or Queen of the Jungle.
The £7million attraction gives families the chance to get a taste of jungle life and compete against each other in trials to collect the most stars and make their debut on the famous winner’s bridge.
Even Ant and Dec have been along to test it out with Ant beating his pal to claim King of the Jungle status.
Dec said: “Every year during I’m A Celebrity we get tons of messages from viewers saying they’d love to be able to have a go at the trials – and now they can. We had a blast trying them all out and some are tougher than you think.”
So I went along to give it a go. I mean if Caitlyn Jenner and Nadine Coyle can skydive into the jungle, surely I can manage a few trials in a Salford shopping centre?
Of all the trials, the ones that scare me the most are the ones involving heights. Eating bugs, no problem. Locked in a coffin with critters, absolutely fine. Heights, no way.
No amount of money in the world would make me walk a plank 334 feet in the air at the top of the Focus Tower in Surfer’s Paradise like Corrie’s Jennie McAlpine and Hollyoaks’ Jamie Lomas did to win their place in the jungle.
So my heart sank when the first thing they did at the new I’m A Celeb attraction was fit me with a harness and helmet… I had a bad feeling about what was coming next.
Standing at the edge of a wooden platform with stepping stones suspended in the air on wires in front of me, I can feel my palms begin to sweat. I know you aren’t supposed to look down in these situations, but of course I looked down to see a solid concrete floor more than six metres beneath me. My legs are shaking but I know I have to face my fears if I am going to make it across the Tree Top Trail.
“Speed is key to this,” advises my guide Eli. “The faster you jump across the stones the easier it is. They will wobble a bit though.”
Gripping my harness I take a tentative step onto the first stone. Yes they do wobble and even though I know I am safely harnessed in, it can’t stop me thinking I am going to plunge to a certain death. Dramatic I know, but all of a sudden I have a new-found respect for screaming jungle celebs.
Next I have to make it across the famous rope bridge – but after the terror of the sky-high stepping stones I skip across without a second thought.
But that was the jungle easing me in gently. Next up are wooden planks suspended in the air – and yes they wobble too.
Managing to quell the sick feeling in my stomach, I make it across the planks in one piece to safety. But my ordeal isn’t over. The next challenge is Get A Grip where you literally take a leap of faith and jump off a sky-high platform and grab a suspended boxing bag.
The longer you can hold onto the bag the more stars you win for camp before being lowered to safety.
My guide secures my harness and I shuffle to the edge of the platform. I change my strategy and jump without giving myself time to think about possibly plunging to the ground.
I managed to hold onto the bag for a whole 10 seconds before dropping to the floor – screaming and landing in a less than ladylike fashion. But I had won more stars for camp.
I am slowly overcoming my fear of heights. And it is a good job as next up is Europe’s first-ever ceiling-mounted Spyrider – a high speed track where, suspended in a harness chair, you can speed above the jungle canopy in just 18 seconds.
You control the speed yourself using a throttle and the faster you go, the more stars you win. I give it full throttle and whizz round.
There are mental and physical trials too. On the jungle run I have to memorise a sequence of lights then tackle swinging steps and monkey bars, then typeg the sequence into a screen.
But I haven’t finished with heights yet. For my final test I climb up to the top of the canopy once more where my harness is attached to a zip wire.
I carefully lower myself off the edge and fly over the top of the jungle again and I am actually beginning to enjoy the sky-high challenges. Exhilarated after facing my fears I take my victory walk over the winner’s bridge and crown myself Queen of the Jungle.