I’m a Celebrity has returned with all the impact you’d expect in our hour of need for entertaining distractions, but while it’s been drawing big viewing audiences (a record 14.3 million for the launch) to ITV it has also sparked a significant number of complaints from the public about animal welfare issues.
Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom told RadioTimes.com it had received 540 complaints – “the majority of which relate to animal welfare” – in the past seven days.
The spokesperson couldn’t elaborate on what precisely the complaints were about because staff at the watchdog were “exceptionally busy” currently, but many of the trials on the 20th series of I’m a Celebrity involved the 12 celebrities taking on challenges which involved large volumes of insects, rodents and reptiles, either consuming them, crawling through them or being deluged with them.
I’m a Celebrity producers said it had ended the practice of campmates eating live creatures, but for some that change doesn’t go far enough.
Earlier this year, animal rights campaign group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) called on I’m a Celebrity to change not only its location but also its format.
PETA director Elisa Allen told The Sun: “The show’s been doing the same tired, tacky, and cruel stunts for years, ones it should not be able to get away with in the UK with the RSPCA watching. Coronavirus has taught us the devastating consequences of messing with wildlife, and ITV needs to heed that lesson.”
She continued: “PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that ‘animals are not ours to use for entertainment’ – has launched an online campaign urging ITV to scrap stunts using animals from the show and replace them with challenges suitable for this century.”
According to the Mirror, BBC Springwatch presenter Iolo Williams also questioned where the insects were sourced from. He said that some of the cockroaches used in the latest series were non-native and they could harm the ecosystem if they escaped into the Welsh countryside.
It appears that #imacelebrity made no licence application to @NatResWales to release non-native species into the wild. This now becomes an issue for @HeddluGogCymru to ascertain whether offences have been committed. Over to you @NWPRuralCrime
— Iolo Williams (@IoloWilliams2) November 24, 2020
Police spoke to producers and gave advice about their “set management and biosecurity” .
RadioTimes.com contacted I’m a Celebrity about the latest Ofcom complaints but they declined to comment.