Richard Madeley has been forced to withdraw from I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! after breaking the show’s “Covid bubble” during a hospital trip.
The 65-year-old TV presenter was taken to hospital as a precaution after falling ill at Gwrych Castle in North Wales in the early hours of Thursday.
Writing on Instagram, Madeley admitted he was “gutted” to be leaving the ITV show less than a week after its launch.
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 in the camp.
“Obviously I’m gutted to be leaving so soon but the safety of all the campmates is the number one priority. I’m incredibly excited to watch their journey continue… even more so at the prospect of being somewhere a little warmer than Gwrych Castle.
“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.”
A statement from the show said: “Our strict Covid protocols means Richard has sadly had to leave the show 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.”
Madeley has recorded a message for his former campmates explaining his departure and will speak with hosts Ant and Dec during Friday’s show.
It is understood he will not be replaced by another celebrity.
EastEnders actor Adam Woodyatt, who alongside Coronation Street stalwart Simon Gregson is joining the show as a late arrival, was among those sending messages of support.
He tweeted: “Gutted to hear @richardm56 has had to leave but really pleased to hear he’s okay.”
The official account of fellow contestant Snoochie Shy posted: “Sad to hear the news of you leaving but we hope you’re feeling better.”
Wednesday’s episode of the show saw Madeley slide head first into a sewer of rotten fruit and vegetables during a trial called Castle Kitchen Nightmares.
The challenge saw the presenter hunt for 10 hidden stars in a room “full of castle critters” as rotten food was dumped on him from above.
An ITV spokesman said: “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.”
Madeley, best-known for hosting This Morning alongside his wife Judy Finnigan, is one of 12 contestants taking part in this year’s series at Gwrych Castle.
A spokeswoman for the Welsh Ambulance Service said: “We were called at 5.43am this morning, Thursday November 25, to reports of a medical emergency at Gwrych Castle in Abergele, Conwy.
“We sent a paramedic in a rapid response car and an emergency ambulance to the scene, and one patient was taken to hospital.”
The flagship series has returned to Wales for a second year because ongoing coronavirus travel restrictions have prevented filming at its usual Australian jungle location.