The Greek version of the 20-year-old format will launch on free-to-air network Skai TV in the autumn and be filmed in the Dominican Republic. Produced by Acun Medya, the series will follow the same format as the original, with a group of celebrities taken to a jungle where they compete in challenges and are slowly voted off by the public. Versions in French Canada, Hungary and Romania have been ordered of late, along with an All Stars spin-off in the UK.
“The format’s ability to engage viewers across multiple platforms and consistently deliver high ratings shows its enduring appeal and entertainment value,” said Ruth Berry, ITV Studios’ MD of Global Partnerships.
“The big territory”
Speaking to Deadline, the outfit’s MD of Global Creative Networks Mike Beale said it is on a renewed drive to secure a U.S. commission of the show, which has never really taken off in the States.
“Obviously the big territory we want back is the U.S.,” Beale said, when questioned about where next. “It is definitely on our list.”
The jungle-based ITV Entertainment version currently being pitched to U.S. buyers is distinct from the ITV America and Blumhouse Television version titled Celebrity Castle pitched around 18 months ago, which would have played out in a castle featuring horror elements. This came after the UK version was moved from the Australian jungle to a Welsh castle during the pandemic, but it has since moved back to the jungle.
Beale suggested the “potential homes have grown” for a U.S. version now that the likes of Hulu and Amazon Prime Video are showing a keen interest in unscripted. Along with Come Dine with Me, he pointed out that I’m a Celebrity is one of ITV Studios’ few hit shows that isn’t currently airing across the pond, with U.S. versions of The Voice, Love Island and Hell’s Kitchen all performing well stateside.
Pitching to unscripted buyers in the U.S. has ratcheted up since the writers strike, which could usher in a new wave of unscripted formats to plug scheduling gaps, although Beale stressed that networks are proceeding with caution.
Featuring the likes of Caitlyn Jenner and Mylene Klass, seasons of I’m a Celebrity aired on ABC for a single season in 2003 and NBC in 2009, while in the UK it has been one of ITV’s biggest shows for more than two decades straight. “There was some interesting mythology about whether it did or didn’t work [in the U.S.],” explained Beale.
Many global I’m a Celebrity versions are in rude health, Beale added, regularly hitting a 40% to 50% share and performing well with the elusive younger viewer. Different territories are experimenting with alternative release patterns, such as in French Canada, where share has regulrly topped 50% with the show broadcasting weekly rather than nightly.
In the UK, All Stars recently aired on ITV and new streamer ITVX, bringing together memorable contestants from past versions.
While All Stars didn’t match the ratings of the established December version, which regularly sits atop ITV’s most-watched lists, it nonetheless performed well in its slot. Beale predicted All Stars will return once every few years rather than annually and predicted more networks will greenlight spin-offs of legacy brands in the coming years.
“Broadcasters are thinking about how to use their streaming services to drive a circular transaction for the viewer, so I think we will see more of these scheduling experiments of key brands,” he added.
Beale has also been helping bed in new ITV Studios reality shows such as the BBC’s I Kissed a Boy and Channel 4’s Scared of the Dark.
In his Creative Networks role, he ties together ITV Studios’ entertainment indies globally. “The buzzword is cost effectiveness,” explained Beale. “We are thinking how we can make shows that have ambition and produce them in a way that makes them cost effective to the networks in these difficult times.”