Holly Willoughby Helps 'I'm A Celebrity' Launch To Become Highest-Rated Show Of The Year

She made her debut as Dec's temporary co-host as the new series kicked off.

Holly Willoughby’s ‘I’m A Celebrity’ debut helped the launch of the new series to become highest-rated show of the year so far, it has been revealed.

The 18th season opened to an impressive overnight average of 11 million as it kicked off on Sunday night, peaking at 11.9m.

The average figure was 700,000 up on last year’s launch, and the highest-rated first episode of the ITV reality show since 2013.

Holly Willoughby and Declan Donnelly
Holly Willoughby and Declan Donnelly
Rex/Shutterstock/ITV

According to ITV, it was the biggest overnight audience for any channel so far this year, outside of World Cup matches, even beating coverage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.

It was also the fourth-largest audience for the launch of ‘I’m A Celebrity’ in the show’s 16-year history.

Of course, many curious viewers will have been tuning in to see how Holly fared co-hosting her first show alongside Declan Donnelly.

The presenter received mixed reviews on social media, with many agreeing they missed Dec’s regular partner, Ant McPartlin.

‘This Morning’ host Holly is filling in for Ant as he continues his time away from the spotlight, in the wake of his conviction for drink-driving earlier this year, for which he was fined £80,000.

Dec usually hosts the show with Ant McPartlin
Dec usually hosts the show with Ant McPartlin
Rex/Shutterstock/ITV

Ant returned to social media on Sunday to wish Dec and Holly all the best for the series, tweeting: “All the very best of luck to the little fella and @hollywills for the show tonight. Lots of love from the big fella!!”

The first episode saw the 10 new celebrities - including the likes of football manager Harry Redknapp, ‘X Factor’ finalist Fleur East, The Chase’s Anne Hegerty and ‘DIY SOS’ presenter Nick Knowles - competing in a number of challenges before entering camp, with the aim of building a team along the way.

This year's campmates took part in a number of challenges before entering camp
This year's campmates took part in a number of challenges before entering camp
Rex

One challenge - reportedly the highest task ever seen on the show - saw them climbing two towers strutting out from the edge of a cliff in to collect as many flags as possible.

However, the events of the day proved to be a little too much for an overwhelmed Anne Hegerty, who was seen breaking down in tears, admitting to the group she was “really close to saying ‘I can’t do this’”.

‘I’m A Celebrity’ airs every night on ITV.

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