I'm A Celeb winner Joe Swash making shock return to this year's show alongside former stars

KING of the Jungle Joe Swash is returning to I’m A Celebrity alongside a series of former winners and contestants.

The 38-year-old actor and presenter, who previously hosted the spin-off show, has agreed to play a role in this year’s 20th series.

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When Joe first entered I’m A Celeb’s Australian jungle in 2008, he was best known for playing Mickey Miller in EastEnders.

He eventually won the ITV show, beating tennis legend Martina Navratilova and Star Trek actor George Takei with nearly 70 per cent of viewers’ votes.

He will join 2015’s Jungle Queen Vicky Pattison, 33, Charlie Brooks, 39, who won in 2012, and former Towie star Joey Essex, 30, who finished fourth in 2013.

But producers on the show, being filmed at Gwrych Castle, near Abergele, Conwy, are keeping the exact involvement of the ex-contestants close to their chest.

They have discussed putting them in the castle for a night, getting them to present a trial, or having them pop up as part of new yet-to-be-decided features.

A source said: “Joe was one of the show’s most popular winners.

“He absolutely walked his year, bagging nearly 70 per cent of the final vote over Martina and George.

“When they were looking at those to invite back, he seemed a no-brainer.

“Just as with Vicky, Joey and Charlie, exactly what Joe will be doing in North Wales still remains to be seen. 

“All sorts of things have been discussed and he’s game for anything.

“He knows the show inside out so who better to have on board. He is buzzing.”

Joe’s career has been synonymous with the show. The year after winning the main show, he joined the ITV2 spin-off, now known as Extra Camp.

It was where he met his partner, former X Factor contestant Stacey Solomon, 31, who was crowned Queen of the Jungle after her own stint on the show in 2010.

The couple had their first child, Rex, in May last year. 

Joe also has a 13-year-old son, Harry, from a previous relationship.

It is thought Joe, just like Vicky, Charlie and Joey, had to self-isolate for up to two weeks before heading to the set. 

He is one of three EastEnders stars to win the show — 2012 winner Charlie played Janine Butcher. And last year it was won by Jacqueline Jossa, 28, who played Lauren Branning.

Meanwhile, Joe’s former co-star Shane Richie, 56 — who played Alfie Moon — is among the favourites to be crowned King of the Castle this year.

This year’s show, presented by Ant McPartlin — who is celebrating his 45th birthday tomorrow — and Declan Donnelly, also 45, is being held in the 19th-century, Grade I-listed castle after Covid-19 travel restrictions made shooting in New South Wales, Australia, impossible.

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