First night: I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!

Celebrities feel the jungle heat
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The Independent Online

The television reality show that has spawned a much-publicised celebrity marriage and revived the ailing career of many a sinking star, is back on our screens again.

And five series on, despite plunging our society to new depths of inanity, as its detractors claim, Britain's appetite for I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! does not seem to have abated. The first episode of this year's show was expected to attract an estimated 11 million viewers as the latest line-up of former soap and pop stars - and odd former prime minister's daughter thrown in for good measure - were wheeled out to begin their onslaught in the Australian jungle last night.

The prime minister's daughter in question, Carol Thatcher, 52, was joined by nine others - including Jimmy Osmond, 42, of the Osmonds fame, Jenny Frost, 27, a former member of the girl band Atomic Kitten, Antony Costa, a former member of the boy band Blue, Sheree Murphy, 30, and Sid Owen, 33, former EastEnders actors, Jilly Goolden, 48, a television presenter, Kimberley Davies, 30, a former Neighbours actor, Elaine Lordan, 39, a former actor on Emmerdale, and the antiques expert David Dickinson, 64.

While some families might be proud of their offspring's decision to rough it in the camp - a considerable amount of the money raised by the television voting is donated to the charity of the contestant's choice - Carol Thatcher admitted last week that she had not yet mustered up the courage to tell her mother.

An indication of what might be in store for the contestants was given early on, when each of the 10 were given the choice of entering the camp by either walking a tightrope or skydiving.

Richard Cowles, the co-executive producer, said: "From the moment the celebrities step into the helicopter and set off for camp they shouldn't take anything for granted and they can expect things to be a lot tougher than anything they saw in previous years."

Bets for who was likely to join previous winners of the show - who include another former Atomic Kitten, Kerry McFadden - were placed with some frenzy over the weekend. William Hill, the betting agency, said it expected to take £5m this weekend, and that, coupled with bets placed on ITV's X Factor and BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing, which are broadcast on Saturday night, was likely to amount to the highest amount of money taken by bookmakers since television betting began.

Sid Owen is favourite to be crowned King of the Jungle at 3-1, but David Dickinson, the perma-tanned presenter of BBC1's Bargain Hunt, has had his odds cut from 6-1 to 4-1.

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