I’m A Celeb bosses hit back as Chris Packham’s blistering attack at Ant and Dec and the ‘grotesque’ show over its exploitation of animals gains 24,000 likes
I’m A Celebrity bosses have hit back at Chris Packham’s blistering attack over the show’s use of animals.
The Springwatch presenter, 62, shared an open letter to hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday in which he branded their hit ITV show a ‘grotesque blot on their reputations’.
It has received 2million views and gained 24,000 likes in under 24 hours.
ITV has now responded to Chris’ outcry over the use of thousands of live insects and animals in the Bushtucker Trials,
A spokesman said that ‘welfare and safety is always the primary priority’ when it comes to animals used by the show and they are ‘in compliance with all regional and national laws in Australia’.
I’m A Celebrity bosses have hit back at Chris Packham’s blistering attack over the show’s use of animals
Chris hit out at show hosts Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly for encouraging the exploitation of animals on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! calling the show a ‘blot on their reputations’
ITV added in a statement to The Sun: ‘We have a very strict environmental plan in place on the show.
‘Welfare and safety is always the primary priority on any of our programmes.
‘At any Bushtucker trial that features animals, we have qualified and experienced animal handlers on site at all times.’
MailOnline has contacted ITV for comment.
So far this series, viewers have watched the celebrities be deluged in a whole host of creepy crawlies, fight off mud crabs and yabbies underwater and lie in boxes filled with dozens of snakes.
Chris, who has long criticised the show, called out hosts Ant and Dec for not replying to his previous correspondence in his open letter.
He began his note: ‘Dear Ant and Dec, I hope you are both in good health. I have written to you before but you have never replied so I thought I’d write again.
‘My letters were polite, reasonable and constructive. This time I’II be a little more frank and forthright.
Chris’ furious open letter has now received 2million views and gained 24,000 likes
So far this series, viewers have watched the celebrities be deluged in a whole host of creepy crawlies and lie in boxes filled with dozens of snakes
Chris revealed he was running out of patience as he hit out at the ‘appalling’ animal abuse being shown nightly at 9pm on ITV
Chris shared an open letter with the presenters on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday in which he branded their hit ITV show ’embarrassing’
‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ remains a grotesque blot on the reputations of both yourselves and ITV.
‘Its continued exploitation of animals for entertainment is an anachronistic embarrassment and betrays a dangerous disconnect between a world increasingly concerned with an environmental crisis, and a reckless and marginalised part of the media which doesn’t appear to give a s**t.’
Last year, the show received a record number of complaints over the use of live animals in its Bushtucker Trials.
The RSPCA received 17,000 complaints from viewers over animals being used in the challenges.
Chris spoke of this as he continued: ‘I write in my own capacity, not as the President of the RSPCA, but I can tell you that last year the charity received 17,000 complaints about your willful abuse of animals and the reinforcement of negative stereotypes.
‘I and all those people, many of whom I have no doubt will be fans of yours and of the work you have done and do, are sick of your perceived disregard for animal welfare and the way that we feel about it.
‘You may see little or no connection between the global extermination event that humans are precipitating and IACGMOOH [I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!] but its all about attitudes and education.
‘Without a fundamental respect for life, all life, it is difficult for those of us who care to bring enough people on board to initiate essential action to protect and actively restore the worlds wildlife.
‘I spend my life trying to engender that respect, your programme recklessly countermands that, and what’s absolutely pitiful, is that it does it for laughs. Just for amusement.
‘Twenty eight percent of the worlds monitored species are threatened with extinction. Is that funny? Is that a laugh?
Toads were used in the Bushtucker Trial Fishy Business earlier this week
This year’s show has seen the celebrities have to eat live insects (pictured Nigel Farage and Nella Rose)
‘Well maybe you just don’t care? But Declan, in 2019 I asked you to please think about how your daughter will perceive your actions as she grows into a world increasingly devoid of wildlife… What did she say?
‘That was four years ago, what is she saying now, aware I’m sure that her future is seriously imperilled by climate breakdown and biodiversity loss?’
Chris continued on a second page: ‘But it’s also about money isn’t it. In March the TV channel and on-demand service reported studio revenue of more than £2b and I’m told that IACGMOOH is the biggest single banker for ITV. A Google search also suggests that your highest paid participant this year will receive £1.5 million. Speculative figures for your own earnings are also widely published.
‘But in November 2022 a peak of 10 million, and average of 9.1 million, watched the launch episode. This year that dipped to a peak of 7.8 million, and an average of just seven million ummmm, maybe your viewers need a change of format… so…
‘Look at the world, listen to the voices of concern, read the writing on the wall. Circuses have gone, dancing bears have gone, cock and dog fighting are the sad preserve of psychopathic criminals… we have no performing dolphins in the UK and no chimpanzees dressed up for tea time.
‘The cruel exploitation of wildlife for gratuitous entertainment on your programme continues to damage the great reputation of the UK as a ‘nation of animal lovers’.
‘To conclude, how about you announce now that from 2024 there will be no more abuse of animals for entertainment; that instead there will be an educational component which will celebrate wildlife and its conservation; that a percentage of the programmes profits will go to proactive practical conservation, and that you will present a programme to highlight that work (I’ll loan you my binoculars) and that you will both agree to be ambassadors and influencers for prominent wildlife charities? Yours Chris Packham.’
Chris’ Springwatch co-host and stepdaughter Megan McCubbin also hit out at the programme.
The BBC presenter claimed it is ‘unacceptable’ to use animals, insects and bugs in the trials and called upon Ant and Dec to change things.
Speaking about the show’s animal welfare, she said: ‘They’re not strict enough in my opinion.
‘Animals are there to be marvelled at to appreciate and respect but to have them in this capacity in entertainment and a lot of the language used in these trials is quite negative.
‘I’m not a fan of the show, I don’t watch it and I won’t until they drastically change things.
‘You can do great trials, you can do adventures things and crazy daredevil experiences without involving animals, especially in a negative way.
‘I hope we’ve gone past that point but we’re still working on it, aren’t we.’
Crushed: The show – which is filmed in Australia at Springbrook National Park – has seen animals ‘dropped, thrown, handled roughly, chased and crushed’, the RSPCA reports
Chris’ Springwatch co-host and stepdaughter Megan McCubbin has also hit out at the programme, calling it ‘unacceptable’
The show – which is filmed in Australia at Springbrook National Park in Murwillumbah, New South Wales – has also come under fire from RSPCA.
The animal welfare charity has called for viewers to complain to Ofcom in a bid to stop the use of such creatures.
Organisers of a new campaign claim animals have been ‘dropped, thrown, handled roughly, chased and crushed’ since the programme first aired in 2002.
They said: ‘With our previous calls for change ignored, we’re more concerned than ever about the use of live animals on the show and the example it sets for viewers.
‘The show’s messaging and the potential to prompt people to try and copy the ‘bushtucker trials’ at home for entertainment is also worrying.
‘We feel that deliberately portraying certain species as nasty or frightening or as objects that can be used purely for entertainment rather than sentient, living creatures sends out totally the wrong message.
‘While we understand that I’m a Celeb is a popular form of entertainment, we’re only asking producers to stop using living creatures in this capacity.’
However, I’m A Celebrity bosses insist they comply with all rules and regulations around the use of animals.
An ITV spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘We are always fully transparent about our protocols and we have a very strict environmental plan in place on the show.
‘As a production, we comply with all regional and national laws concerning the use of insects, animals and reptiles.
‘Welfare and safety is always the primary priority on any of our programmes, and at any Bushtucker trial that features animals, we have qualified and experienced animal handlers on site at all times.’
They continued: ‘We inform the RSPCA NSW of all of our activities on the show and they have an open invitation to attend the site at any time.
‘We cannot stress enough that we have rigorous protocols in place to ensure that animals are handled safely at all times, before, during and after any filming has taken place, in compliance with all regional and national laws.’
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