I’m a Celebrity’s launch episode reaches 9.8m viewers

ITV opened up camp to a massive home audience last night – but it still wasn't the biggest show of the weekend

I'm a Celebrity 2017 main cast profile

Ratings beast I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! pulled in a massive 9.88 million viewers with its first episode of 2017, with the creepy-crawly celebathon hosted by Ant and Dec peaking at 10.9m last night.

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The show achieved more than double the audience of the BBC’s Howard End, which brought in 4.17m in the same time slot.

Last night’s I’m a Celeb saw the new celebs put into pairs: soap stars Jennie McAlpine and Jamie Lomas found themselves together, as did former footballer Dennis Wise and footballer’s wife Rebecca Vardy. Made In Chelsea’s Georgia “Toff” Toffolo and “YouTube sensation” Jack Maynard, meanwhile, couldn’t remember where they’d met before “but it was definitely drunk”. Elsewhere, Stanley Johnson paired with comedian Shappi Khorsandi and boxer Amir Khan with singer Vanessa White.

The show also made a few references to the elephant in the room: Ant’s recent rehab. While opening the show co-host Dec joked, “I’m here with the gorgeous Holly Willoughby!” referencing the rumour Willoughby would be filling in for Ant this series.

The I’m a Celeb opener was one of several shows that hit the 10m viewers mark this weekend. BBC nature documentary Blue Planet II had an average audience of 10.76m and Strictly Come Dancing pulled in 10.65m (which peaked at 11.37) on Saturday and 10.76m (with a peak of 12.13m) on Sunday.

However, there was also the continuing slump in X Factor ratings with Saturday’s episode only achieving a 4.44m audience with Sunday’s not faring much better at 4.58m.

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I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! continues tonight on ITV