Why 'I’m a Celeb' keeps turning to audio favourites

Lucie Cave: Why ‘I’m a Celeb’ keeps turning to audio favourites

Bauer Media’s Lucie Cave explains why reality TV keeps turning to audio stars, and how podcast and radio presenters can “out-personality” any politician.

It’s back once again, that time of cheer which comes just once a year…

No, not Christmas, but the three weeks where we get to watch famous faces and notorious politicians chow down on kangaroo testicles in the Australian jungle.

As I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! returns for a 23rd series, we’re once again seeing the consistent theme of radio and podcast presenters finding their way into camp.

Hits Radio and Staying Relevant podcast host Sam Thompson and former Capital presenter Marvin Humes are amongst the 2023 camp mates, and early predictions show Sam to be one of the bookie’s early favourites.

L-R: Sam Thompson and Marvin Humes in the Jungle on I’m A Celeb. Credit ITV.


Every year the I’m a Celeb producers turn to the nation’s favourite audio stars to light up the silver screen — starting right back in 2002’s inaugural series with the very first winner, Tony Blackburn. We’ve since seen the likes of Jordan North, Fleur East, Roman Kemp, Chris Moyles, Vernon Kay, Jordan Banjo and Adele Roberts all head down under.

But it’s not just The Jungle — from Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing on Ice to Celebrity MasterChef and Celebrity Big Brother, when the biggest reality TV shows are on the hunt for entertaining figures, why do they keep turning to audio stars? And what’s more why do they all do so well?

Well, I put it down to a punchy ‘three C’s’ – communication, compassion and connection.


Radio and podcast personalities know exactly how to communicate with an audience — without putting on a façade, they offer a voice that feels real, relatable and like one of your mates.

Through the microphone of a podcast or a radio show, hosts provide comfort, comedy and camaraderie to our ears for hours at a time, day in day out. Listeners often see audio presenters as friends they can trust, a constant companion in the room.

Recently, Hits Radio’s Fleur East put that to the test by introducing an AI version of herself on Halloween. Critics across the board saw the show with AI Fleur to feel ‘robotic’, ‘stilted’ and lacking that authenticity and witty back-and-forth that radio and podcast hosts always deliver.

So, if you are a canny TV producer worth your salted vomit fruit — you know that it’s this genuine communication that reality TV needs; and it’s audio stars who will be guaranteed to out-personality any politician and keep audiences watching.


This brings me nicely onto my next C — compassion.

Knowing Sam Thompson as I do, trust me when I say you can expect to see Sam entertaining the camp as well as the nation each night for the next month.

Sam, like all of his fellow hosts and podcasters, has the ability to draw audiences in with a natural charm, endearing personality, warmth and empathy. His enthusiasm knows no bounds — whether it’s his obsession with pop culture and being unflinchingly honest when it comes to pulling back the curtain of fame on his podcast Staying Relevant with his mate Pete Wicks, or his love of pop on his Hits Radio show.

It’s pretty impossible to broadcast to listeners every night or on every episode without having a real compassion and a true understanding of your audience.

Looking at sister station Greatest Hits Radio for example — millions of listeners followed Ken Bruce as he joined the station in April, as Ken has a way of understanding his listeners better than anyone.

Or Absolute Radio, where its presenters speak emotionally about mental health as that is an issue that affects a large majority of its audience. This compassion invites audiences to root for them and call in and vote — which is gold dust for any reality show producer.

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These two ingredients put together ultimately lead to strong connections.

Audio presenters create a trust, respect and bond that very few mediums can emulate — and if you aren’t bringing that to your podcast or radio show, then it simply won’t land with the listener.

At Bauer Media we believe that human connection is at the heart of audio and everything that we do — and isn’t that what reality tv is looking for, too?

At the end of the day, what audiences look for with any kind of entertainment is connection, so it’s no surprise that I’m A Celeb and reality shows turn to the experts in audio to help deliver it.

Like any good I’m A Celeb camp, audio is both intimate and yet part of a shared experience, which makes it a platform that brands should want to be a part of.

So, as Sam and Marvin head into the Jungle, advertisers will be reminded how much the British public loves an audio star. Audio is scientifically proven to make you happy, and I expect in a few weeks’ time, you’ll agree Sam Thompson does too.

Lucie Cave is chief creative officer for podcasts & commercial content at Bauer Media.

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