Nigel Farage has been ‘blamed’ for I’m A Celebrity suffering a major ‘setback’ just days into the new series, after it’s been revealed that the show’s launch episode attracted over two million less viewers than last year.
One of the biggest shows on TV for over two decades now, I’m A Celebrity is one of those shows that everyone in the UK has an opinion on , whether they actually watch it or not and, after disgraced former health secretary Matt Hancock’s appearance in the 2022 series caused a real furore, outspoken politician Nigel has become a ‘hate figure’ for many angry fans this time round, with critics fuming with ITV for even considering him for a place on the line-up, with their disdain only being added to with rumours of the ex UKIP leader receiving a huge pay cheque for going into the jungle.
Nigel was as the centre of the action as I’m A Celebrity’s latest run launched on Sunday night, with him, Josie Gibson and Nella Rose being dumped in the Australian outback, 2,000 miles away from their co-stars who were still on the Gold Coast, as ITV bosses staged a huge first for the programme. However, while I’m A Celeb was comfortably the most watched programme in the primetime 9pm time slot, as it aired a bumper 105 minute launch, viewing figures have shown that it has shed in excess of two million viewers in the last 12 months.
While last year’s I’m A Celebrity launch peaked at 10.3 million, overnight ratings for this year’s first episode recorded a peak of 7.8 million. ITV celebrated the figure, claiming it to be the channel’s ‘highest overnight audience of the year and the biggest entertainment launch across any channel,’ but viewers were quick to identify Nigel as the reason why less people tuned in than usual, follow people’s threats to ‘boycott’ the new series because of his involvement in it.
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In a sarcastic tweet to ITV, one critic, posting on X, wrote: “Have you thanked him yet for the whopping drop in ratings, courtesy of his presence?” as another reacted: “And you lot thought chucking £1.5m at Farage would be a bright idea, eh?”
Those viewers who tuned into Monday’s second episode watched as Nigel got into a heated row with First Dates star Fred Siriex about Brexit, with Fred branding Nigel ‘shameful’ as co-stars Grace Dent and Nick Pickard made a hasty exit from camp to avoid the row. And then, after taking part in the grim Jungle Pizzeria easting trial, Nigel looked shocked after the public didn’t vote him for the next one, as Nella Rose was chosen instead.
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