The return of Celebrity Big Brother was watched by more than five million viewers – giving Channel 5 one of its biggest audiences ever.

The relaunch of the reality show, hosted by Brian Dowling, pulled in an average audience of 5.1 million viewers between 9pm and 10.30pm, a 21.9 per cent share of the audience.

Celebrity Big Brother – featuring housemates including Amy Childs, Tara Reid, Sally Bercow and former X Factor Jedward – easily won its slot, beating BBC1’s Torchwood: Miracle Day, which picked up 3.4 million viewers and ITV1 cop drama Single-Handed, which drew 2.8 million viewers.

Spin-off show Celebrity Big Brother’s Bit on the Side, which followed the main show at 10.30pm was watched by 1.8 million viewers.

However the launch audience figures were slightly down on those for the opening of the final Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 4 last year.

Thursday’s debut on Five peaked at six million just before 10pm. The celebrity version of the show debuted with an average 5.6 million in 2010, peaking at 6.2 million.

However the programme seems to have weathered the predicted plummet in viewing figures which had been forecast for its move to the new channel. It was one of the four biggest audiences for Channel 5 since 1997.