Celebrities

Chris Packham ‘ignored’ by I’m A Celeb’s Ant and Dec as he blasts show for ‘animal abuse’

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Autumnwatch presenter Chris Packham, 59, who is also a vegan, is no stranger to standing up for animal rights and has blasted I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! for the way they use animals in the show. Contestants on the show are often seen being smothered in the likes of cockroaches and spiders during trials, as well as eating meat for their dinner.

It’s like something from a bygone age

Chris Packham

Chris, a passionate conservationist, said he has written multiple complaints to the show’s producers, but decided to contact hosts Ant and Dec last year after receiving no reply.

The star has asked the show to rethink their use of animals, which he branded “bizarre” and “outdated”.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk ahead of the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards’ 30th anniversary, he claimed: “I don’t dislike the programme, it has an entertaining component to it, it’s enormously popular, I just don’t think there’s any place for any animal abuse on that programme.

“There’s no place for any animals.”

Chris went on to say the show had a chance to “rethink” about their ways ahead of bringing the show to the UK.

The ITV favourite has been airing from Gwrych Castle in Wales instead of Australia this year, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

He added: “I’m really disappointed that this year, when they were making it in the UK, they didn’t use the opportunity to rethink about the animal involvement in the programme.

“Because, it is abuse, it is exploitative and it is just there for entertainment and it is cruel and it is reinforcing stereotypes and a lot of people don’t like it, it’s not just me.

“I’m not being a killjoy here, I’m not against the programme, just if the great minds of ITV entertainment can’t come up with the means of making a celebrity uncomfortable without pouring cockroaches over them, they ought to go back to the drawing board.

“I don’t want to see cockroaches being poured over someone for entertainment, that’s not entertaining, that’s animal abuse.”

The presenter said he is yet to receive a reply about his concerns from producers or the hosts.

“I wrote to Ant and Dec last year rather than the producers, and I didn’t get a reply from them.

“I don’t know why, it’s bizarre, it’s so outdated having animals on that programme, like something from a bygone age.”

Despite not writing his own complaint this year, the host has backed RSPCA’s campaign to change its current ways.

“They’ve got their head stuck in the sand and it’s embarrassing to the nation,” he added of the show’s producers.

“It’s not reflecting how most people see and think about animals.

“Why don’t they pour slime over them? Why cockroaches? They should wake up and get rid of it.”

An ITV spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “I’m A Celebrity complies with animal welfare law concerning the use of animals and we are proud of our exemplary production practices.”

Express.co.uk has also contacted a representative for Ant and Dec for comment.

The RSPCA has said in a statement: “Since I’m a Celebrity was first aired, animals have been dropped, thrown, handled roughly, crushed, chased, overcrowded, scared by contestants and prevented from escaping from stressful experiences.

“There have also been incidents where animals have been killed for no other purpose than entertainment.

“The show’s messaging and the potential to prompt people to try and copy the “Bushtucker Trials” at home for entertainment is also worrying and 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.

“We were really disappointed to be told that they would continue to be using animals in this way during this series. We know that many of you, the animal loving public, agree with us and really dislike the use of animals in this way.”

The RSPCA Young Photographer Awards winners will be unveiled at the online awards ceremony later this month.

I’m A Celebrity continues tonight at 9pm on ITV.

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