PANICKING I’m A Celebrity bosses fear a star exodus following Richard Madeley’s dramatic departure.
The telly presenter, 65, was rushed to hospital after falling ill early yesterday.
He left the Covid bubble so cannot return to Gwrych Castle, North Wales.
Crew are worried about Dame Arlene Phillips, 78, who is on painkillers. And DJ Naughty Boy, 36, has sought counselling over his mum’s health.
A source said: “They can’t afford to lose any more big names.”
Richard Madeley said he was “gutted” to leave I’m A Celebrity after his early hours medical emergency.
Ambulance crews who were called at 5.23am yesterday rushed him to hospital for tests.
The Good Morning Britain host later explained he cannot return because he breached the contestants’ secure Covid bubble.
He wrote on Instagram: “Gutted to be leaving so soon but the safety of all the campmates is the No1 priority. I’m incredibly excited to watch their journey continue — even more so at the prospect of being somewhere a little warmer.”
Producers fear campmates will follow him out of Gwrych Castle, North Wales — as Storm Arwen threatens snow and 80mph winds.
Crew are so concerned at flagging morale that they have been leaving biscuits and Haribo sweets in a private room to cheer up stars.
Dame Arlene Phillips, the oldest contestant in the show’s history at 78, is on daily painkillers.
DJ and music producer Naughty Boy, 36, has been struggling to cope with his mum’s dementia diagnosis.
He has spoken to a psychologist and is getting liquid vitamins to make sure he is OK to continue.
Both stars have had medical treatment in the private room separate from the main camp.
Also, singer Frankie Bridge, 32, has developed an unexplained rash — and has been given steroid cream to sort the problem.
ITV said no replacement celebrities will be drafted in.
Read our I’m A Celeb 2021 live blog for the latest updates
A source said: “Spirits were already rock bottom at the start of the week with The Clink and Main Camp split.
“But there are growing concerns for Arlene who is really struggling and in chronic pain.
“She is being helped around by the likes of David Ginola and Naughty Boy and is looking really frail. It’s hard enough roughing it in the ruins of an old castle let alone at 78 years old.
“She is a trooper and wants to show everyone how tough she is.
“But there may come a point where the decision is taken out of her hands.”
The insider added: “Naughty Boy is also having a tough time.
“He’s been speaking to the show’s psych team, led by Sandra Scott, on a specially set-up iPad to make sure he is staying upbeat.
“This is the longest he has been away from his mother since her diagnosis so they are keen to make sure he’s not spiralling quietly.”
The source added of Frankie’s rash: “No one is quite sure what’s caused it, but they hope the ointment will sort things out sharpish.”
The moment Richard was rushed out of camp in front of horrified co-stars will not be shown to viewers in tonight’s show.
Instead the contestants will be told he has quit via a video message played to them in camp.
An interview with hosts Ant and Dec will also be screened.
HOAR understands Richard will receive his full fee, believed to be around £200,000, as he did not leave by his own volition.
After the worrying 999 call at 5.43am, a paramedic arrived first in a rapid response car.
An ITV spokesman told HOAR: “Richard was unwell in the early hours and was immediately seen by our on-site medical team. He’s since been taken to hospital as a precaution. The health and safety of our campmates is our priority.”
In his message yesterday afternoon, he wrote: “Hello all! Richard here — firstly just to say that I’m absolutely FINE.
“I started to feel briefly unwell in the small hours of the morning and was taken to hospital as a precaution. By leaving the camp, I had consequently broken the Covid bubble and as such I’ve had to leave the castle and all the wonderful celebs that remain. Thank you to everyone who supported me on my brief but completely unforgettable adventure. I’ve made some great friends and honestly had the time of my life.” He signed off: “Speak soon, Richard x.”
The star has been able to call his family, including TV presenter wife Judy Finnigan, 73.
Their daughter Chloe, 34, posted: “Dad’s absolutely fine. We’ve been speaking to him all day and ultimately, he’s just livid he can’t go back into camp because of Covid restrictions.
“He did himself proud though. He worked hard and was his calm, collected, kind and funny self. We are so proud.”
His departure leaves a major headache for bosses.
A source said: “Richard was the star signing. ITV has wanted him on the show for years and everyone was expecting TV gold. They can’t afford to lose any other big names.
“They are deciding whether the door remains open to him in future, or if his I’m A Celebrity experience is over for good.”
Richard’s scare came a day after he took part in the Kitchen Nightmares trial — and hours after he competed in a group Bushtucker Trial. He appeared in good health during the trial, joking and laughing with Ant and Dec.
However, after struggling to untie knots and being pelted with rotten fruit, Richard ended up missing out on six out of ten stars for the camp and was left disappointed.
An ITV spokesman said: “Our strict Covid protocols mean Richard has sadly had to leave as he is no longer in the bubble the celebrities form when entering the castle.
“He has been a truly brilliant campmate and we thank him for being part of this series.”