This year ITV have chosen Gwrych Castle in North Wales as the jungle venue for the show 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here' hosted by Ant & Dec.
Only 1 hours' drive from Liverpool we took some clients on a private guided tour of North Wales as we visited LLandullas and Abergele to find out what might be in store for the contestants!
But let's start by asking, How do you pronounce Gwrych Castle
The welsh alphabet technically has 29 letters. Although in practice it is 20 letters as there is no J, K, Q, V, X or Z as some sounds, for example, the "Kicking K" are formed by an Ll. You will see this Ll spelling in lots of welsh names, Llangollen, Llandudno, Llanrwst.
The Ch sound is best explained if you put it at the end of a mountain ridge for example Crib Goch on Mount Snowdon and that sounds like Crib Gock.
The W in Gwrych is silent so its pronounced Gree-ick
Why has ITV chosen Gwrych Castle?
This year has been challenging for everyone with the Covid-19 outbreak, so clearly it's not possible for the contestants, crew or Ant & Dec to travel to Australia and the ruins of Gwrych Castle and their remote location will be a fresh outlook on this popular TV show.
The Castle which is a "Folly" and not one of the Edwardian Castles like Caernarfon or nearby Conwy castles was constructed in 1810, so it is late Georgian into Regency Period.
There are parts of the Castle which exist from 1485, very late medieval remains which might be best explained as an outlook post across the Irish Sea and guarding the entrance to the Menai Strait.
The area has always been rich in minerals and although it is remote the Lloyd-Hesketh family occupied this thin coastal strip in Llandullas, and it was that family who had settled in Llandullas since the 16th century built the Castle and associated buildings and walled gardens.
Winfred Cochrane took over the estate until 1924 when on her death she left the Castle to King George V (leaving large country houses and castles usually means leaving the death duty and inheritance tax too!). Still, the gift was not accepted, and by 1997 the Castle was closed and was rapidly becoming a ruin.
It was opened to the public, and there were guided tours around the Castle and the estate and private guided tours with a brilliant tour guide.
This is not the first time that Gwrych Castle has been used for TV and film production. In 1996 it was used in the film Prince Valiant, starring Edward Fox, Joanna Lumley and Katherine Heigl.
In 2018 there was an episode of the BBC programme Great British Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo which contains a superb interview with Mark Baker and a look around the Castle and the grounds as well as content from nearby Liverpool.
Mark Baker, who is a renowned welsh historian and professor championed the cause establishing a Gwrych Castle Trust, and after being purchased by an American for around £850,000 in 2006 it was repurchased by Conwy Council.
It was then sold in 2007 to Clayton Hotels who planned a luxury hotel development and now perhaps the use of the location on the ITV show will kick-start the regeneration of the site which would be great news for the area.
In the meantime, we are sure there is no such 5-star luxury insight of the contestants, nor for their families who also usually enjoy warm luxury holidays in Australia as part of the programme!
Let's hope the families all enjoy a late summer vacation perhaps at Rhyl after the show with its wonderful beaches. In the 60's & 70's Rhyl and nearby Prestatyn were very popular for days out and holidays from Liverpool and Manchester, so let's hope the publicity from the show will raise the profile of this beautiful coastal area and bring some much-needed investment and help North Wales build on the recent Staycation boom.
Traditional Welsh food includes Bara Brith a "fruit and currant cake" or Welsh Drop Scones and we can just begin to imagine the "Tasty" alternatives to the currents or sultanas on some of the "Bushtucker Trials"
So this year who will be the contestants and who will be crowned King or Queen of the Jungle or will it be "King or Queen of the Castle"
It might be a case of I'm a Celebrity Get me Out of Here, however, Brilliant Tours are offering private guided days out to North Wales for up to 6 guests including the opportunity to drive past the Gwrych Castle Estate and to learn more about the programme and its production.
Once the show is finished with the sun setting over the Irish Sea then Brilliant Tours will be able to arrange guided tours of the Castle and grounds and for guests to learn more about this incredible location and we really hope that it will then be a case of "I'm not a celebrity but get me in to here!"