Ten or twelve minor celebrities are sent to a camp in the Australian jungle (or, for two seasons during the early years of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the ruins of a castle in North Wales), where they are constantly filmed and kept short of food. They have to participate in “bushtucker trials” to win better food for the camp. Viewers vote for their favourites to stay in the camp, with the last person remaining being crowned monarch of the jungle. The show is broadcast nightly over three weeks, with a mixture of live footage and recorded activity from the previous 24 hours.
The show is chiefly famous for the bushtucker trials, which sometimes (as the name suggests) consist of eating items as revolting as the producers can devise (kangaroo anus, raw sheep eyes, various insects, live worms), and sometimes of trying to collect items while blindfolded/with your mouth/underwater/from inside a box of snakes etc. - usually while having gunge or cockroaches dropped on your head or biting ants climbing up your legs. Expect screams, tears and vomiting. The celebrities can avoid doing a trial, or back out partway through, by using the power of title drops- but the food earned for camp is forfeited.
There are various other ways to gain food or treats for the camp, which vary from season to season. In 2011, there was a spoof game show, a giant game of Jenga with food items written on the blocks to be removed, and two of the celebrities had to play tricks on the others while not being caught.
Ant and Dec's banter is a major strength of the show. They broadcast live from a treetop “studio” above the camp to introduce the filmed footage of camp life. They also break the news of evictions to the celebrities and interview the leavers,, and they tell the celebrities which one will be participating in the trials and stay with the chosen celeb during the trial, commentating.
The show has a live-action maze based on it in Thorpe Park, where guests compete for the star in several trials inspired by the show. There's no crocodile penis eating, thankfully.
Tropes used on the show
- Audience Participation: Viewers vote for who goes through the bush-tucker trials. This often ends up quite sadistic, as the public votes for whoever they think would hate the trial and suffer the most, with the side-effect of depriving the rest of camp of food when they do badly.
- Confession Cam: The “Bush Telegraph” room.
- Confetti Drop: A different case. Pyrotechnics are used whenever contestants crossed the exit bridge when they are eliminated. In the 2019 series, this trope was played straight for eliminations due to the 2019 Australia Bushfires, preventing Pyro and Sparklers from being used.
- Of course, the King/Queen of the Jungle gets showered with confetti at the end of every series.
- Covered in Gunge: Yeah, a bit sometimes.
- Didn't Think This Through: You'd be surprised by how many celebrities have joined the show by merely misunderstanding the concept. Gillian McKeith was screaming the whole time and frozen with fear and Gemma Collins quit after a few days (she was so scared she didn't even take the helicopter). Harry Redknapp (who ultimately ended up winning his series), signed up under the genuine belief that the food withdrawal was just part of the act and the celebrities would be fed warm food off camera.
- Eat That: Oh, God. Baby mouse fritters, anyone?
- Elimination Catchphrase: “You are a celebrity. Get yourself out of here.”
- Everyone Has Standards: Averted. Ant and Dec adore seeing the Celebrities suffer. Just watch some of their facial expressions and silent snickering together during the trials. Played straight with Holly Willoughby, who is disgusted by the trials and will scream and squeak along with the Celebrities.
- Non-Gameplay Elimination:
- Katie Price quit after being chosen for seven bushtucker trials in a row.
- Freddie Starr was pulled out after an allergic reaction in a bush-tucker trial.
- In the 2014 series Craig Charles left when his older brother died of a heart attack while he was doing it.
- Not So Above It All: In the 2018 series, Holly will often play along with Dec's antics and, on occasions, has broken at celebrity actions during the trials.
- Running Gag: For the 2017 series, Dec mocking Dennis Wise's height.
- For the 2022 series, several.
- Ant and Dec singing Culture Club's Karma Chameleon at every opportunity, due to Boy George being one of the contestants.
- Ant and Dec calling each other Antipedia and Decipedia whenever they share a fact.
- Ant saying that the whole show should be moved to the creek after every conversation the celebrities have there.
- Ant and Dec shaking each other's hands and saying "Good to see you".
- Dec saying "Welcome back to broccoli" after an ad break due to the overhead shot of trees resembling broccoli.
- For the 2022 series, several.
- Title Drop: It`s how you get out of the Bushtucker Trials.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: From the 2010 series, the losing camp is now fed rice and beans, instead of going hungry for the night. This is a direct result of an incident in 2009 in which celebrity chef Gino D'Acampo hunted and killed a rat to feed the camp, resulting in complaints from animal rights organisations (and D'Acampo and another contestant involved facing criminal charges).
- Voted Off the Island: At the start of the series, the public vote on who should undergo trials. A week in, this switches to voting to keep their favourites in camp. The phone voting pays for the show.
- Waterfall Shower: Most famously with Myleene Klass, but many a young starlet will take a shower in a bikini at some point.