England European Cup-winning footballer Jill Scott won ITV‘s I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! last night but the nation’s eyes were trained on just one contestant, MP Matt Hancock, who came third in a final watched by a peak of 11.3M viewers.
Ratings data that has just come in shows the finale was one of the most watched UK TV broadcasts of this year so far, growing by more than 3M on last year’s final, which was shot in Wales not Australia. An average 10.4M watched the show across its 9 p.m.-10.30 p.m. GMT (1 p.m. – 2.30 p.m. PST) runtime, with a peak of 11.3M.
Former Health Secretary Hancock’s controversial decision to partake in the show, which saw him immediately lose the Conservative Party whip, divided living rooms around the country, with some believing they were seeing a ‘personal’ side to a man many blame for a number of Covid-19 mishaps and lockdown rulebreaking, and others furious with the platform he was being given and the MP’s disregard for his constituents.
That said, he almost won the show, and used his exit interview with hosts Ant and Dec to say he wanted politicians “to come across as more human.”
“This is probably the most extreme way of showing who you are,” he added.
In a final episode that included a snorkelling challenge with frogs and eels, Hancock was revealed to have taken part in the most Bushtucker Trials through a series that featured confrontations with the likes of singer Boy George and DJ Chris Moyles.
Hancock was pipped to the post by Scott and Hollyoaks actor Owen Warner.
He returns to the UK with question marks over his future as a politician after leaving his constituents for three weeks to take part in one of the nation’s most-watched entertainment shows.
Hancock has a week to convince the Conservative Party to restore the whip otherwise he will have to run at the next election as an independent and the party will choose a new candidate. Former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries similarly lost the whip for being on I’m a Celebrity in 2017 and it took her several months to have the whip returned.
Rumors are abuzz that Hancock will stand down anyway as a politician and pursue a career in TV, in a similar vein to former politicians such as Ed Balls and Michael Portillo.