I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! might be about to lose its crown as the most-watched show on TV, with the 2023 launch episode losing a huge number of viewers on last year.
However, the 2023 premiere, which saw a new crop of stars enter Australian jungle, had an audience peak of 7.8 million, and an average of just seven million.
While this makes it the biggest entertainment launch across any channel, it was still down from the peak of 10 million, and average of 9.1 million, who watched the launch episode in November 2022 .
Viewers are attributing the dip to the inclusion of controversial ex-politician Nigel Farage.
Since the GB News host was revealed to be appearing on this year’s series, long-time fans of the show announced plans to boycott it, and the ratings dip has been branded “the Farage effect”.
Farage recently said he was “seriously considering” the series after being offered “really quite substantial sums of money” to sign up. On his GB News show, he said producers have offered him the show several times in the past.
It’s been reported that the former UKIP leader had been offered £1.5m to sign up, which would make him the highest-paid celebrity in the history of the show. This trounces Noel Edmond’s £600,000, which he received in 2022.
Farage is known for espousing right-wing views on subjects ranging from immigration and the gender pay gap, and over the years, has been accused of inciting xenophobia.
One viewer called Farage’s casting “a cynical bid to boosts its ratings”, arguing that they should not be “giving publicity” to an “extremist” who “has assisted in doing untold damage to this country”. Several petitions have also been launched in an attempt to get the “hateful” Farage removed from the show.
Comedian London Hughes wrote: “If I went on #ImACeleb and found out I was on the show with Nigel Farage, I’d leave and sue for racial negligence… but that’s just me. I’d say that I’m quite shocked that ITV is platforming a racist as a form of entertainment, but nothing really surprises me anymore.”
Broadcaster Danny Baker added: “Nigel Farage being put into the jungle by @ITV shows how insensitive, crass, tone deaf, idiot provocative, morally bankrupt a network they are.”
I’m a Celebrity continues nightly on ITV1 and ITVX at 9pm.