Channel Four's new show Big Brother CELEBRITY HIJACK debuted last night to a disappointing number of viewers.

The 3.6 million people watching the show's simulcast on Channel Four and E4 was just half the amount that tuned into Celebrity Big Brother last year.

Approximately 1.9 million viewers watched the show when it was broadcast solely on E4 at 10 pm.

The new style show, which sees a range of celebrities controlling 12 gifted youngsters, replaced the original format after the racism controversy of the last series.

The first celebrity to exert their power over the unsuspecting housemates was LITTLE BRITAIN star Matt Lucas.

The comedian made politician John Loughton act according to his unusual instructions in order to guarantee a place in the show's final.

Matt's whispered orders saw John hugging his fellow housemates, dancing frantically and massaging other's shoulders.

Celebrities said to be taking part in the show over the upcoming weeks include Joan Rivers, JIMMY CARR and CHRISTINE HAMILTON.

It was recently reported that the show's presenter DERMOT O'LEARY had defended the celebrity show's old format.

Speaking to BBC Radio One's Newsbeat programme the TV star said: "I still think it's a good show.

"I don't think anyone should apologise for what happened last year. It conjured up debate and asked serious questions."

04/01/2008 12:31:05