Reality TV series I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! began on a high note today when contestants were forced to skydive into the Australian jungle.
The celebrities – who arrived by stretch limousines at their luxurious hotel - were woken at 4am for the fist day of their gruelling adventure, which will be shown on TV tonight.
The group of nine celebrities – minus former East 17 star Brian Harvey – then boarded helicopters.
They were divided into two groups for the final leg of their journey to camp at Murwillumbah near Brisbane on Australia’s east coast.
Harvey, the 10th celebrity contestant, will join the camp tomorrow following the death of his 70-year-old grandmother Betty Nabb.
The first group containing, Fran Cosgrove, Joe Pasquale, Nancy Sorrell and Paul Burrell, were shocked when told they would be parachuting into the wilderness.
The remaining five: Janet Street-Porter, Natalie Appleton, Antonio Fargas, Sophie Anderton and Sheila Ferguson, were let off lightly with a four-hour horseback journey.
The skydiving start was almost too much for Burrell who screamed “No, no, no” as he jumped before a sudden gust of wind swept the former butler and his tandem master a mile off course.
Pasquale said he was worried he would “fall out of the plane and poo myself” while Cosgrove was determined to put on a brave face and volunteered to be the first out of the plane.
After the jump, the group then set out on a marathon five-hour hike, which included scaling a waterfall on rope ladders in the rain, before they reached camp.
But Sorrell had nothing but praise after a tough first day in the Australian jungle
“I can’t believe I did it, but I did and I really loved every second of it,” she said of her skydive.
“After I’d jumped off a plane millions of feet up I think I can do anything well, not really, but it’s given me so much confidence.”
Alex Gardiner, executive producer, said the skydive was one of many twists the group have in store.
“The celebrities had absolutely no idea what lay in store for them and their faces were a picture when it was explained to them,” he said.
“There’s no question that this experience has helped them to very quickly form a bond and got them to work as a team.”
Harvey, 30, said he was told of his grandmother’s death as soon as his plane landed in Australia and was given the option by producers to leave the programme.
“I weighed up going into the jungle or getting on a plane to fly home and I’ve decided that I do want to do the show,” he said.
The 10 celebrities will be forced to survive on limited supplies and forced to complete a number of tasks as they try and avoid being voted off the show.
Early favourites to win the reality show were the glamour girls Nancy Sorrell, Sophie Anderton and Natalie Appleton, but the bookies are now backing the high-pitched comic Joe Pasquale to be crowned king of the jungle.
The last series averaged audiences well above the 10m mark and saw TV presenter Kerry McFadden crowned winner.
I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here will be screened on ITV1 tonight from 9pm and will continue for two weeks.