If the furore surrounding Matt Hancock joining the newest series of I’m A Celebrity didn’t elicit enough controversy upon its announcement, PETA’s latest letter regarding the show has surely added to it. The animal rights campaigners have asked Newcastle presenters Ant and Dec to quit the show ahead of its premier episode this evening.
PETA UK published an open letter on their website late last week by Elisa Allen, Vice President of Programmes for PETA, taking aim at specifically the cruelty of the bush tucker trials, one of the mainstays of the reality contest. “For 20 years, you have been complicit in the “bushtucker trials”, standing by as animals of all descriptions are tormented – and even killed – for TV ratings.”
“In this time, you must surely have become aware of the suffering, discomfort, and fear that these unwilling participants endure during the challenges. Ostriches, crocodiles, snakes, rats, and thousands of insects have been exploited for the show’s puerile pranks – and we fear that the upcoming series will be no different.”
The letter continued “The longer you associate yourselves with this show, the more you send
the message to viewers that you think animal abuse is not only acceptable but also entertaining. Leaving I’m a Celebrity would signal to the show’s producers that people aren’t going to stand for senseless cruelty to animals anymore and that it’s time to change. So please, hang up your hats and get yourselves out of there – for animals’ sake.”
I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here has come under fire previously for their treatment of animals on the show. In 2020, the RSPCA stated that it had "serious concerns about the welfare of animals" featured in the programme. It stated that the production company had got in touch ahead of the 20th series taking place in the UK, where the RSPCA had advised that consideration should be given to using welfare-friendly alternatives to animals in the Bushtucker trials.
Eleven years earlier, ITV had to apologise for not having properly advised the contestants in the ninth series of the relevant Australian legislation regarding animal cruelty. Gino D’Acampo and Stuart Manning were charged by New South Wales Police after RSPCA Australia complained over their killing and eating of a rat during the show.