Celebrity Hell's Kitchen proving to be new hit for ITV

LONDON - It seems the British public like nothing better than to see celebrities suffer as chef Gordon Ramsay's new reality series 'Hell's Kitchen' shapes up to be ITV's next 'I'm a Celebrity..' with ratings climbing to more than to 8m.

The show, which is to run for two weeks, kickstarted on Sunday with an average of 7m viewers and a 31.2% share of the audience. Its share has since risen to 31.7% and 8.3m by Monday in the 9pm slot, putting it ahead of BBC One's 'Murphy's Law' with former 'Cold Feet' star James Nesbitt, which netted just 4.9m.

ITV could have been helped by 'Coronation Street', which is currently running with its Todd Grimshaw sexuality storyline. At its peak, it drew in a whopping 13.7m viewers at 8.30pm, representing a 54.9% audience share.

Last night's 'Hell's Kitchen' caused a stir with two of the celebrity chefs, actors Amanda Barrie and James Dreyfus, threatening to quit. The action followed a signature tongue-lashing from Ramsay, who later showed his softer side and gave Dreyfus, who ended up in tears, a hug.

The action kicked off when Ramsay returned two starters meant for fellow chef Anthony Worrall Thompson on the grounds that they were sub standard. Dreyfus then went into the smoking room and broke down in tears.

Ramsay comforted him, reassuring him that everything was perfect. "One spaghetti was overcooked and one soup was too salty. Apart from that you were a tower of strength."

Ramsay is well known for his fierce tongue. In 'Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares' he called one chef a "lazy slob who lacks inspiration" and said that he cooked like a "twat".

Ten celebrities including Edwina Curry, former soap and pop star Jennifer Ellison, Belinda Carlisle and Matt Goss star in the reality show, with former 'Have I Got News for You' host Angus Deayton presenting the live event.

ITV's decision to run 'Hell's Kitchen' across 14 nights on ITV1 with extra shows and live coverage on digital channel ITV2 mirrors its strategy for 'I'm a Celebrity...'. 'Hell's Kitchen' still has some way to go to catch the jungle adventure, which peaked at 16m viewers.

The next series of 'I'm a Celebrity...' is due to hit screens in November.

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