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I’m a Celeb… betting guide


“I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!” (usually known as just “I’m A Celebrity”) has been a sensation on British television network ITV since it debuted in 2002, and has been simulcast in Ireland since 2004. With 13 seasons under its belt, it is one of the longest-running reality programs in history and shows no sign of slowing down. It has won a number of major awards, including most popular entertainment program at the National Television Awards and the BAFTA for best entertainment program.

Growth in “I’m A Celebrity” betting over recent years has certainly given the show a new surge in popularity, with ITV ratings increasing almost every year since 2008. This guide will tell you more about the background of the show, and give you some critical tips for your own “I’m A Celebrity” betting.

The History of “I’m A Celebrity”

“I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!” was developed by reality television powerhouse Granada Television and licensed to networks in a number of countries, but only currently runs in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, It was a dismal failure in the US.

The program became a smash in its first few seasons, with more than 10 million viewers for each year’s finale and 15 million viewers for the season three final episode. After a small lull in viewership for a few years, the ratings started to rise again and “I’m a Celebrity” is once more averaging around 10 million viewers per show in the UK. The program is one of the most involved productions in all of reality television, filmed in the “jungles” of New South Wales, Australia and requiring a staff of more than 700 during its three weeks of filming each year.

Although the show wasn’t able to gain traction in many nations, there was no doubt from the beginning that British audiences would take to the series. The debut episode in August 2002 was watched by nearly seven million viewers, and nearly 11 million tuned in for the finale to see legendary DJ Tony Blackburn outlast socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and become the first King of the Jungle. In 2014, around 13 million viewers watched Westlife singer Kian Egan crowned the latest King of the Jungle, beating out royal fashion designer David Emanuel.

Through the years, the infamous Bush Tucker trials, in which contestants must eat disgusting jungle foods and perform physically-demanding daredevil stunts in order to win food, have become some of the most-watched segments of “I’m A Celebrity.” The show has also resurrected the careers of (or created new careers for) many participants including Joe Pasquale and Kerry Katona – even if many of those new careers are as reality television actors or presenters.

Betting On “I’m A Celebrity”

Almost all UK bookmakers welcome punts on “I’m A Celebrity,” whether you want to wager a couple of pounds or many hundreds. Most of the action focuses on who the eventual King or Queen of the Jungle will be, and betting reaches a frenzied pace during the final few weeks of the show when the nation is fully focused on the last few competitors. However, if you’re a savvy reality show handicapper and can narrow the field early, you’re likely to get better odds on your favourite during the beginning episodes of the program. This is particularly true because the majority of people wagering on “I’m A Celebrity” are female (as is the case with most novelty bets on reality shows), and they are more likely betting with their hearts rather than their heads.

There are other wagers you can make on the outcome of the show; for example, bookmakers offer odds on who will be the next contestant evicted from the jungle, you can place “who will last longer” match bets, or you can try to choose the eventual winner from a pool of candidates which doesn’t include the favourite. Wagers can easily be placed either online or in person.

Checking The Trends

Most novelty punters simply put a little wager on a contestant who appeals to them, in order to make the TV show more fun to watch. However, those who are actually trying to win real money need more than just a “contestant who appeals to them.” Now that 13 seasons are in the books, it’s possible to look at the characteristics of all of the “I’m A Celebrity” winners to try and determine who’s most likely to be crowned King or Queen.

  • Only four women in 13 years have survived the competition to become champion: Kerry Katona, Carol Thatcher, Stacey Solomon and Charlie Brooks – and only two females, Solomon and Brooks, have become Queen of the Jungle in the last eight years. All but Carol Thatcher (who might be considered an outlier because of the unusual source of her fame) were between the ages of 21 and 32 when they won.
  • Contestants’ ages aren’t necessarily a good predictor of success; there have been winners in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s – Tony Blackburn and Christopher Biggins were each 59 when they were crowned King in seasons one and seven, respectively. However, since Biggins won in 2008, every champion (Joe Swash, Gino D’Acampo, Stacey Solomon, Dougie Poynter, Charlie Brooks and Kian Egan) has been between the ages of 21 and 34. That could be an important trend to consider when betting on “I’m A Celebrity.”
  • There’s not a lot of evidence that a contestant’s prior claim to fame can determine their chances on the show. Three of the last four winners have come from the pop music world (Egan, from the band Westlife; Poynter, from the band McFly; and Solomon, the singer best known from her appearances on “The X Factor”). But only two other musicians, Matt Willis of Busted and Kerry Katona of Atomic Kitten, had won before that – and the rest of the winners don’t seem to form any sort of bettable pattern (one DJ, one cricketer, one comedian, three actors, a chef and a journalist).
  • The one factor that does seem reliable is that the “I’m A Celebrity” winner has almost always been British. The only exceptions were Kian Egan (Irish) in 2014, and Gino D’Acampo (Italian, but a British celebrity) in 2010. It’s notable that American contestants have never been able to break through on the show; most recently actress Stefanie Powers was the second player eliminated in 2014 and actor Alfonso Ribeiro only made it halfway through in 2013. The most successful Americans have been Ashley Roberts of the Pussycat Dolls, who finished second in 2012, the duo of tennis star Martina Navratilova and Star Trek icon George Takei, who finished second and third in 2008, and model/entrepreneur Janice Dickinson, who was second in 2007. Contestants from other countries have had their problems as well, including dancer Camilla Dallerup of Denmark who was the first person eliminated in season nine and Israeli paranormalist Uri Geller (to be fair, he does live in England and is also a British citizen), the first contestant eliminated in season one.

If current trends hold, the best bets in upcoming years would be British men between the ages of 21 and 35, with a slight edge to former pop stars.

It’s difficult to predict how the voting will go in any particular year, since support for a contestant can easily soar when they pull off a particular stunt or demonstrate surprisingly “likeable” traits. Just as easily, a favorite can be thrown out of the jungle; the best example of that was Joey Essex in season 13. He was the clear bettors’ choice, with Ladbrokes odds showing him as 100/1 to be voted off and an 8/11 favorite to win the entire competition – just before he was unexpectedly tossed along with model Amy Willerton. It was the biggest upset ever seen in the history of reality television betting.

There are some important things to look for, though, when trying to predict a winner of “I’m A Celebrity.” They all have to do with the way the contestants are viewed by the voters.

  • Notice who is the most likeable; there’s usually a short shelf life for the “me first” type of contestant. A big ego can grab attention, but will often alienate other contestants as well as voters. All of the recent winners – Egan, Brooks, Poynter, Solomon, D’Acampo and Swash – came off as genuinely nice or laid back on the show (and most are described that way in real life as well). It seems clear that voters gravitate toward those types of people. Prima donnas, on the other hand, generally don’t last too long.
  • Notice who serves the role of peacemaker in camp. When tension increases, one or two contestants usually step forward to become diplomats and mediators. They’re often the ones who end up being viewed favorably after the dust has settled.
  • Notice who “starts out slowly.” Recent winners have often been somewhat in the background for the first couple of episodes, before emerging as strong personalities later on. The contestants who attract attention early by starting out with a bang are likely to go out with a whimper. However, this doesn’t mean the quiet ones are always the ones to bet on; if they don’t come out of their shell after several episodes, they’re good candidates for quick elimination – even more so if they’re a women. A good example of this was Dougie Poynter in season 11, who was calm and likeable throughout but didn’t really emerge as a personality to be reckoned with until the latter stages of the competition. He ended up winning the whole thing.
  • Notice who shows both a healthy dose of fear and a large dose of courage when faced with scary Bush Tucker trials. Voters like to see that the contestants aren’t full of false bravado. They prefer people who are honestly afraid, yet still willing to try just about anything. If they do it with a good sense of humor at the same time, that’s even better for their chances.
  • Notice any “trouble signs” which may develop during a season. Most people were shocked at the eviction of Joey Essex and Amy Willerton in season 13, but their constant flirting during earlier episodes, together with Amy’s continuing efforts to hide contraband in her bag, were danger signals for both of them. The story line may have been entertaining, but it wasn’t conducive to either likeability or longevity for those involved. Bettors who saw the signs before the shocking eviction were able to cash in big.
  • Notice who gets the most “positive” air time. It seems that the contestants who are shown the most often on camera, in sympathetic scenes, are likely to attract the most votes. Of course, that makes perfect sense. But as a punter, your job is to notice these sorts of little things which will sway voters – and then take advantage before the odds shift.

Most “I’m A Celebrity” betting is largely done for fun. There are big profits to be made, however, if you follow the trends, observe closely, and punt wisely.


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