EXCLUSIVE: I'm a Celebrity director reveals Tweed set life
WHILE 11.3 million viewers an episode see the beauty of the Tweed Shire on I'm Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, it's the TV program's crew who really get to enjoy it in reality.
Screening of the hit ITV flagship show has just begun in the UK, with the country's tabloids full of gossip about this year's contestants, a list of 12 B-grade celebrities few Tweed residents are likely to have heard of.
Among this year's group of starter celebrities caught in the "jungle” of the Tweed rainforest, include Stanley Johnson, the father of UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, former England football star Dennis Wise, and Coronation Street legend Jennie McAlpine.
Other 'stars' include the wife of a former football star, a soap star, a boxer, a model and a comedian.
The celebrities are taking part in the 17th series of the production, which pumps more than $13million into the Tweed economy each year, including the employment of around 80 locals a year.
The show, hosted by well-known UK celebrities Ant and Dec, will screen in the UK over the next three weeks, with campmates eliminated through a series of bizarre dares.
For veteran walk-in director Robin Trump, whose role it is to co-ordinate the 90-minute launch episodes of the reality program, this year's highlight was a skydiving scene filmed over Misty Mountain near Byrrill Creek. "It's just an amazing and exotic sight and that's what we're really after,” said Mr Trump, in an exclusive interview with the Tweed Daily News.
"We have a massive audience in the UK and that's what they want, a very epic-looking scene.”
Mr Trump arrives 10 weeks ahead of filming of the first episode, which takes three days to film, and as a Londoner, appreciates the region from a first-hand perspective.
"I love it when I'm heading into the Tweed Valley and the light shines across the mountains,” he said.
"It beats driving out of London, I tell you.”
Mr Trump came to the role after working his way up the ladder from camera assistant, to director of other hit shows the UK Apprentice and Bear Grylls.
He said the I'm a Celebrity episodes required a unique skill set compared to other projects.
"Logistically it's very different because we have almost 20 crews out in various places,” he said.
"For the launching episode, we had six choppers in the air at one time, three filming and your jump choppers. Because it's live, we film it and two days later it goes to the UK, all the editing is done on-site.”
Contestants might have to eat or handle nasty animals, but the crew has yet to report a snake or spider bite.
A skeleton team of crew stay in the region all year round, and count the Uki pie shop among their favourite eateries. "A lot of our crew is local, it's a real big collaboration between the Brits and Australia,” he said.