I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! could be about to lose its crown as the most-watched show on television as its 2023 launch episode lost a large number of viewers compared to last year.
The reality series is an annual ratings winner for ITV, attracting an average of nine to 11 million viewers each series.
However, the 2023 premiere, which saw a new generation of stars enter the Australian jungle, peaked at 7.8 million viewers but averaged just seven million.
While this is the biggest entertainment launch across all channels, it was still below the peak of 10 million and an average of 9.1 million who watched the November 2022 launch episode.
Viewers attribute the decline to the inclusion of controversial former politician Nigel Farage.
Since it was announced that the GB News presenter would appear on this year’s series, long-standing fans of the show announced plans to boycott it and the ratings decline has been dubbed the “Farage effect”.
Farage recently said he was “seriously considering” the series after being offered “really significant sums of money” to sign up. Speaking on his GB News show, he said producers had offered him the show several times in the past.
It was reported that the former UKIP leader was offered £1.5 million to sign up, which would make him the highest-paid celebrity in the show’s history. This surpasses Noel Edmonds £600,000 he received in 2022.
Farage is known for holding right-wing views on issues such as immigration and the gender pay gap, and over the years he has been accused of stoking xenophobia.
One viewer called Farage’s casting “a cynical attempt to boost his ratings” and argued that they should not give “publicity” to an “extremist” who has “helped cause untold damage to this country.” Several petitions have also been launched 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 go and sue for racist negligence… but that’s just me.” I’d say I’m pretty “I’m shocked that ITV portrays a racist as a form of entertainment, but nothing really surprises me anymore.”
Broadcaster Danny Baker added: “Nigel Farage being thrown into the jungle by @ITV shows how insensitive, crass, tone-deaf, idiotic, provocative and morally bankrupt a broadcaster it is.”
I’m a celebrity Continues nightly at 9pm on ITV1 and ITVX.