Shropshire Star

Launch of new I’m A Celebrity series sees viewership fall

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage entered the jungle following Matt Hancock’s appearance last year.

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The first episode of the new series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! had more than two million fewer viewers than last year.

An average of seven million viewers watched the return of the show on Sunday night, according to overnight ratings, and ITV reported a peak audience of 7.8 million.

The ITV1 show, which this year includes former Ukip and Brexit party leader Nigel Farage and Jamie Lynn Spears, began at 9pm and ended at 10.45pm.

State Opening of Parliament
Former health secretary Matt Hancock appeared on the show last year (Hannah McKay/PA)

The first episode of the 2022 series had an average audience of 9.1 million and a peak viewership of 10.3 million, according to ITV overnight ratings.

Matt Hancock was part of the 2022 show, but did not enter the jungle until later in the series.

He came third last year and was chosen to take part in several trials following his resignation as health secretary over it emerging he had broken his own Covid-19 guidance by kissing and embracing his aide in his office.

The show has generally been a ratings winner for ITV.

Ten million tuned in during the initial episode of the 19th series in 2019, according to overnight figures.

In 2018, some 11 million people tuned in for the first episode, which was the most-watched launch since 2013 when 12 million people tuned in.

The first episode of the 23rd series was “ITV’s highest overnight audience of the year and the biggest entertainment launch across any channel”, according to the broadcaster.

In Monday’s episode, Farage and YouTuber Nella Rose will face a bushtucker eating trial, called the Jungle Pizzeria, following a public vote.

Ahead of entering the jungle, Farage told The Mirror that he has “quite serious physical injuries and neck reconstructions” and will not be taking part in some trials that involve manual labour such as weightlifting.

In 2010, he was taken to hospital following a plane crash at an airfield near Brackley in Northamptonshire.

When Farage first entered the jungle, he met This Morning host Josie Gibson who made a joke about the UK leaving the European Union, which the former MEP-turned-GB News presenter campaigned heavily for.

Explaining entering the reality competition, the 59-year-old said: “It’s not (going to) be easy, but why not?”

Gibson, 38, replied saying: “Can’t be worse than Brexit!”

Farage said it “didn’t take long”, before adding: “I had a feeling we’d get a bit of that.”

In an introduction video, he also told viewers “in the jungle you’re going to find the real me”.

Presenters Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly also made several jokes about Farage during the opening episode of the 23rd series.

They offered an apology to GB News viewers for the fact he will not be presenting his programme while he is away in Australia.

The Geordie duo said: “Sorry Keith, sorry Linda.”

While Farage drove Rose and Gibson to their trials, the presenting pair also said: “Did he veer off a bit too far to the right?”

McPartlin and Donnelly also poked fun at contestant Spears, the sister of superstar Britney Spears.

Spears, also known for Nickelodeon children’s series Zoey 101, said she was “best known for being an actress and a singer” in her introduction video.

Following the clip, McPartlin and Donnelly referred to her as being known for being “Bryan Spears’ sister”.

The contestant’s brother had been one of the producers on Zoey 101.

She has recently competed on the American version of Strictly Come Dancing, called Dancing With The Stars, and appeared in Netflix series Steel Magnolias.

Other celebrity entrants include food critic Grace Dent, former Made In Chelsea star Sam Thompson, JLS singer Marvin Humes, ex-EastEnders actress Danielle Harold and Hollyoaks actor Nick Pickard.

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