Record number of animal lovers complain about 'I'm a Celebrity'
A record 19,000 RSPCA supporters have written to ITV Viewer Services to complain about the use and portrayal of live animals in this year’s ‘I’m a Celebrity - Get Me Out of here’, pleading for the show to stop using them in its notorious 'Bushtucker Trials'
With the return of ITV's reality TV show to Australia after a two year relocation in North Wales during the Covid-19 pandemic - and despite multiple complaints about the show's ongoing animal welfare failings - the animal charity is disappointed to see that nothing has changed. The RSPCA's concerns about the show remain, and it urges the production company to think again and entertain the animal-loving UK public without resorting to anti-animal trials.
Last year, 13,000-plus people aired their disgust at the show via Ofcom, urging it to put pressure on the programme to change its ways, but once again, 'I'm a Celebrity' has put sentient animals such as reptiles in distressing and inappropriate situations and invertebrate animals have routinely been put at risk of being crushed during trials.
RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said:
Sadly, we are once again seeing many live animals on our TV screens put in situations that could compromise their welfare for a quick laugh.
We are also concerned at the way the programme portrays animals; it risks trivialising their lives for the sake of light 'entertainment'. With people discussing how scared they are, and animals portrayed in such a negative light, this programme is a long way from the RSPCA's vision of a world where all animals are respected and treated with kindness and compassion.
And now that animal sentience - the ability of animals to have positive and negative experiences like pain, distress or pleasure - is recognised in UK law, portraying live animals to UK viewers in this way in I'm a Celebrity is out of sync with this progressive step back home.
We've previously urged the production company behind I'm a Celebrity to think again - and entertain the animal-loving UK public without resorting to anti-animal Bushtucker Trials; and now thousands of supporters have written to ITV Viewer Services to back us too.
Concerns about the programme's treatment of animals reflects research carried out earlier this year by the RSPCA and the Scottish SPCA. The Kindness Index revealed that over two-thirds (69%) of respondents - an estimated 36 million people across the UK - describe themselves as animal lovers.
The use of live animals has been a constant feature of the show since it first aired in 2002. The RSPCA believes that - in addition to causing distress to animals - the programme risks a negative portrayal of animals which may cause viewers to develop negative perceptions of certain species. There is also concern that those watching the programme may seek to mimic particular 'Bushtucker Trials'.
It's encouraging that a record 17,000 of our supporters have already written to ITV this year to air their views. We believe it is very possible to produce this programme without compromising the welfare of animals, so urge all those connected with 'I'm a Celebrity' to re-think and update this show in line with public opinion.