Fears were today growing over funnyman Brian Conley’s sixth pantomime appearance in Birmingham after he dramatically quit reality TV show I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here! due to a mystery illness.
The 51-year-old performer became the first star to leave the jungle but details of his illness have been kept under wraps by show bosses.
As Conley’s fellow contestants got on with the routine of another day in the jungle, he was being joined by his family, who have flown to be with him.
The star is due to take the starring role in Birmingham Hippodrome’s pantomime Robinson Crusoe & the Caribbean Pirates, which starts on December 15.
Conley’s exit from the programme followed apparent weight loss after living on a diet of rice and beans for a week. He was last seen during Sunday night’s Bushtucker Trial challenge joking with other contestants. It is believed he quit yesterday.
Programme hosts Ant and Dec only made a brief reference to his departure on the programme last night and the star’s publicist has so far declined to comment. It is not known if he has physical symptoms or if the strain of being on the show has taken its toll on him mentally. The comedian and singer had previously rowed with boxer David Haye after flicking two burning logs on to the jungle floor. The comedian then burst into tears.
A spokesman for the ITV programme said: “Brian Conley has left the jungle due to medical reasons.”
Conley has appeared in a number of pantomimes at Birmingham Hippodrome and enjoyed a successful run in Cinderella last year.
Birmingham Hippodrome had already taken more than £1 million in advanced sales for this year’s pantomime before Conley raised his profile on the ITV1 show.
Stuart Griffiths, chief executive at Birmingham Hippodrome, said: “We all send Brian our best wishes for a speedy recovery and we all look forward to seeing him next month.”
Conley was last seen on the show on Sunday, when Corrie star Helen Flanagan completed her seventh trial.
The 22-year-old actress was last night spared an eighth after viewers voted for Hugo Taylor.
She celebrated the news in characteristic style – in a skimpy bikini in the jungle shower.