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Diarmuid bulks up for Arctic quest

Celebrity gardener Diarmuid Gavin will have to bulk up by at least a stone before he leaves for Norway to record a new reality TV show.

The Herald has learned that the Dubliner will have to pile on the pounds before he begins filming on a new ITV series called 71 Degrees North -- in order to ensure he survives the epic challenge.

The much-anticipated series will see Gavin join a number of high profile British celebrities, who will be broken into two teams, as they compete to reach the North Cape.

The steep cliff, located just over 2,000kms from the North Pole, is known for its harsh conditions and cannot be reached by car.

Gavin and his celeb competitors, which are rumoured to include former EastEnders star, Shane Ritchie and one half of fashion duo, Trinny and Susannah, will have to swim in fjords, climb glaciers, parachute into mountains and dive into icy seas in a bid to reign victorious.

The group will also find themselves camping in sub-zero temperatures every night.

"All of the celebrities taking part have been warned that this is going to be one of the toughest experiences of their lives and they need to be prepared for every eventuality," one programme insider told the Herald.

"They've been told they need to get to the gym and start building muscle and gaining fat if they want to make it to the end. The extra weight will help them keep warm and will protect them from getting too run down the further into the challenge they get.

"In Diarmuid's case he has quite a lean physique so he will need to put on a good few pounds before May," they added.

Diarmuid now lives in London with his wife, Justine Keane, the daughter of former Chief Justice of Ireland Ronan Keane, and the late Terry Keane.

In order to accept the invitation to appear on the ITV show, the star of RTE One's I Want A Garden admits he had to pull out of this year's Chelsea Flower Show, due to take place next May.

"They were very disappointed about it," Diarmuid said. "They were willing to bend over backwards to accommodate me and said they would find the best space for me this year.

"They said not to make a decision about it yet. But there was nothing I could do about it."