Conwy leader on all things I’m A Celeb – the £1million brought into Wales and the legacy ITV will leave behind

I’M A CELEBRITY…Get Me Out Of Here! has brought in more than £1million to Wales’ economy and there is every chance the show will return to Abergele next year.

The 20th series was filmed over three weeks at Grade I listed Gwrych castle.

The final on Friday, December 4 was watched by more than 10 million as Giovanna Fletcher was crowned Queen of the Castle.

Speaking about the programme, its impact on the area and the hundreds of local jobs created for individuals and businesses through the show, cllr Sam Rowlands, leader of Conwy County Borough Council and trustee at the castle, said: “It was a brilliant show. It really showed off the amazing area which we live in and in the long run, it is only going to attract more people to the area to support tourism and hospitality sector in North Wales and specifically Abergele as well.”

“The town has really embraced it which has been good to see. In one way or another people have had a horrible 2020 and it has brought some joy into the community and I think it has brought a real sense of pride.”

Cllr Rowlands thought it was telling how Ant and Dec crowned the first ever Queen of the Castle, but did not use words such as ‘the first and only’.

“They referred to Giovanna as the first queen of the castle,” he said.

“It says something perhaps about the intentions of the production company or ITV.”

Talking about the economy directly, cllr Rowlands said this time of year can be quiet for the caravan parks.

He added: “The fact they had hundreds of crew staying in select accommodation is a good thing especially in a year which has been very difficult for many of them.

“And the profile the show has created for the economy and the future. The contracts for building work and different businesses used… just small businesses that may not have been considered normally.

“I think what is exciting is the long-term prospects and the profile it has created. Not just for Abergele but for Conwy and North Wales as a whole.

“I would say it is at least £1million [the show has brought into Wales]. I think it is a lot more than that.

Asked about the figure – claims that 500 jobs had been created – the Pentre Mawr ward councillor commented: “Each one of those businesses represents people, family etc and this has acted as a little bit of help over what has been a difficult time.”

North Wales Pioneer:

Giovanna Fletcher was crowned Queen of the Castle.Picture: I’m A Celebrity / ITV

The castle trust will welcome the public back when it re-opens its doors in spring.

“A lot of those people who come and visit the castle will be coming to visit for the first time after seeing I’m A Celeb,” cllr Rowlands said.

“And why wouldn’t you make a holiday out of it and see beautiful accommodation and other sites in North Wales?

“It is only going to have a positive knock on effect on businesses and the wider economy.”

Cllr Rowlands said he watched “most” of the series or was otherwise informed by his wife, Natasha.

“I watched the final. I also watched the one with those disgusting drinks,” he laughed.

The council leader made an interesting point about what impression the programme in North Wales had made on the celebrities.

“The celebrities…they will always remember. They will always say what an amazing time they have had and they will always associate that great experience with Abergele.” he said.

“In what was a derelict hopeless site has now brought hope and joy to the community and the area as a whole.”

Cllr Rowlands hopes sets, made for the show, may remain in place at Gwrych Castle and told the Journal, discussions were being conducted with ITV.

He added: “We are discussing with ITV at the moment what sort of legacy ITV would be wanting to leave behind.

“They are ongoing discussions.

“It has been a really successful show for them. They have enjoyed having a refresh after 20 years in the same place, it has been a positive experience for them.”

Cllr Rowlands is pleased Giovanna was crowned Queen of the castle.

“It is my wife who had her down as her favourite right from the start,” he said.

“I always say happy wife, happy life and I’m very happy.”

North Wales Pioneer | Llandudno