U.K. ‘Celebrity’ closer grabs 50%-plus share

Nearly 11 million youth-led viewers watch finale

LONDON — The closing episode of a new U.K. reality show featuring D-list celebrities in “Survivor”-style jungle challenges mopped up an impressive 50%-plus share for the struggling ITV web Saturday.

The success of Granada’s “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me out of Here!,” stripped over the first two weeks of the fall sked on ITV1, represents the first hit reality series in Blighty since Channel 4’s “Big Brother.”

Nearly 11 million viewers watched the last episode of the series Sunday night, which was won by aging DJ Tony Blackburn.

The show’s triumph suggests that the Brits have not lost their flair for creating entertainment formats that can be adapted for overseas audiences. “American Idol,” based on the U.K.’s “Pop Idol,” last week registered record ratings for Fox when 23 million people tuned in for the final two-hour edition.

Young at heart

“I’m a Celebrity” scored heavily with the younger 18-48 demographic, much desired by advertisers.

In the series, a hybrid between “Big Brother” and “Survivor,” featuring a cast of lesser celebs, audience votes to eject the least favorite contestant in a knockout competition set in the Australian jungle.

Granada is confident that it will clinch a much-needed format sale with a U.S. network for “I’m a Celebrity” after talks with studio execs in L.A. last week.

“We anticipate agreement within days,” a Granada insider said. “We’re optimistic we can sell the show to the other main territories, but because it’s expensive to mount (a 250-strong crew was shipped to Oz for the production), only the larger broadcasters can afford to make it.”

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