Im A Celeb tragic deaths – Covid battle, dead in seconds and tumour discovery

I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! has been hit with its fair share of chaos for the 2021 season – from Storm Arwen’s destruction to the perils of filming during the Covid-19 pandemic.

But over the years, as more famous faces signed up to its all-star line-up, tragedy has always been inescapable.

Sadly, a number of the stars from the ITV programme have passed away over the years – which, for a 19-year-long history, is inevitable.

From Covid complications to sudden cardiac arrests, Daily Star delves into those who have died since capturing the nation’s hearts in the Australian jungle and beyond.

Bobby Ball

Bobby Ball certainly made an impression on fans when he strutted his stuff in a tight pink catsuit for an impromptu jungle fashion show back in 2005.

The comedy legend, who appeared in shows like Not Going Out, placed fifth on the series that was eventually won by Carol Thatcher.

Another memorable part of his series was that he appeared in the jungle alongside his comedy partner Tommy Cannon – who was the first to be voted out, leaving Bobby to battle it out on his own.

Bobby died in October 2020 at Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital, aged 76, after suffering complications from Covid-19.

His manager announced: "At first it was thought to be a chest infection but a test proved positive for Covid-19."

Understandably, tributes quickly began pouring in for the late star, with his comedy partner Tommy saying: “Rock on, my good friend, I can't believe this, I'm devastated."

A tribute was also aired for him at the end of a Not Going Out episode, with writer Lee Mack saying he was "utterly shocked and devastated to lose my mate Bobby like this."

Tara Palmer-Tomkinson

Tara was only 45 when she died in her sleep from a perforated ulcer in February 2017.

The star’s I’m A Celeb stint was iconic for so many reasons. She entered the jungle way back in 2002 and was best known for attempting to escape from the set after growing tired of the grisly living conditiions.

Presenters Ant and Dec revealed she got as far as their studio during the attempt, which Tara addressed during her exit chat.

She said: "I just thought, ‘What am I doing here, I seem to be irritating people, and I don't have that much confidence in myself'. It was a combination of so many things, I just thought – go!"

In 2016 Tara was diagnosed with a benign tumour on her pituitary gland, which was successfully treated. She also suffered from ANCA Associated Vasculitis, associated with autoimmune disorders.

In February 2017, Tara was found dead at her London home, with her sister later revealing her cause of death was a perforated ulcer and peritonitis.

In her last interview before her death, Tara told Daily Mail's Weekend magazine of her "unending quest" to make her family proud.

She said she wanted "to make my family proud of me again. I've put them through a lot".

In her early career, Tara was addicted to cocaine, and in 2006 suffered a collapse of her nasal septum due to this battle – with the star undergoing cosmetic surgery to have it rebuilt.

In a moving tribute to Tara, her sister Santa Motefiore said in 2017: "I hope you know how much we miss you.

"I hope that you are resting, because you found life hard and now it is done.

"As your sister I always wanted to look after you and I tried, I really tried. I hope they are looking after you now in Heaven and that you are letting them, and that you heal."

David Gest

Music producer David Gest was a well-known face on reality TV, appearing on I’m A Celeb in 2006.

He also competed in Big Brother in 2016 – but had to quit the house after 13 days owing to his ill health – just months before his death.

He was found dead in his room at London’s Four Seasons Hotel on April 12, 2016, with the police describing his death as having no suspicious circumstances and later confirmed was caused by a stroke.

Following his death it emerged that, according to his friends, David had racked up £500,000 worth of debt from a gambling addiction.

His life, too, was full of controversy – he married Liza Minnelli back in 2002 before the couple separated a year later, with David then attempting to sue her for $10million.

He claimed she was violent and physically abusive, which the affidavit blamed on her alcoholism – though Minnelli denied all accusations.

The lawsuit was eventually dismissed in 2006 for lack of triable issue of fact.

Eric Bristow

Professional Darts player Eric Bristow finished in fourth place during his 2012 I’m A Celeb stint – during which he managed to reduce Coronation Street star Helen Flanagan to tears.

They had a run-in about Helen’s skin, as Helen admitted she enjoys melting ice lollies and drinking them and Eric responded: "That’s what done your skin, all that sh** you’re eating."

He then suggested he could get rid of her spots in one fell swoop by squeezing her head.

Eric’s partner Bex Gadd claimed the jungle had a massive impact on Eric’s health, admitting: "It changed him forever. The Eric that went in the jungle was not the same Eric that came out, unfortunately.

"The total detox of going into I’m A Celebrity and then coming out didn’t do his body any good at all. Eric was really poorly when he came out."

However, she insisted it had no part in his tragic death at the age of 60.

Eric collapsed just minutes into a VIP meet-and-greet experience at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, six years after travelling to Australia.

Bex explained at the time: "It was literally a heart attack. It wasn’t anything to do with what happened in Australia. There was a small clot in Eric’s heart valve and he was dead before he hit the floor."

Freddie Starr

To say Freddie’s time in the jungle was dramatic would be an understatement.

He appeared in the 2011 series, but was soon axed from the programme over fears he "might die" on air.

Freddie suffered a collapse on the programme during a Bushtucker Trial, having suffered a heart attack a year before his appearance on the show.

He was taken away in an ambulance and diagnosed with an allergic reaction – though doctors weren’t sure what caused it.

A source told The Mirror at the time: "Freddie is clearly not well and life in the jungle is tough.

"The last thing we want is for him to get really ill or, heaven forbid, die live on television. It felt irresponsible to allow him back in the jungle."

Freddie was eventually found dead at his Spanish home on May 9, 2019, aged 76.

According to a post-mortem, he died from ischemic heart disease, with the coroner ruling it was the "result of a natural process".

At the time of his death, he was living in tight financial circumstances, with funeral costs covered by a Sheffield undertaker and his body buried in a family-owned grave in Huyton, Merseyside.

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