‘I’ve Tried To Be Polite’: Chris Packham Slams Ant And Dec Over ‘I’m A Celeb’ Animal Use

Chris Packham has slammed Ant and Dec for I'm A Celebrity's use of animals


3 Minutes Read

Ant and Dec presenting I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, an ITV show that abuses a lot of animals Ant and Dec are back presenting I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! - Media Credit: ITV

Chris Packham has written an open letter to I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, describing the show as a “grotesque blot” on both ITV and themselves.

In the letter, which has been widely shared on X (formerly known as Twitter), Packham calls the show an “anachronistic embarrassment” and tells Ant and Dec that he and many others are “sick of your perceived disregard for animal welfare.”

The long-running ITV show sees a group of celebrities live in a camp in the Australian outback for around four weeks. Campmates take part in tasks – known as “Bushtucker Trials” – to earn food. Many of these trials involve the exploitation of a vast number of animals and insects.

According to Packham, the show’s “continued exploitation of animals for entertainment […] betrays a dangerous disconnect between a world increasingly concerned with an environmental crisis, and a reckless and marginalized part of the media which doesn’t appear to give a sh*t.” 

This year’s opening episode aired with two million fewer viewers than last year. Packham’s letter was liked more than 20,000 times within the first 24 hours.

Cruelty masquerading as entertainment

Close-up shot of presenter Chris Packham, who has criticized Ant and Dec over their appearance on I'm A Celebrity
Stephen Chung / Alamy Stock Photo Chris Packham has criticized Ant and Dec for laughing at animal abuse in I’m A Celebrity

The show’s model has barely changed in more than 20 years.

I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! brings together a group of more-or-less-well-known celebrities, which this year includes former politician Nigel Farage and social media star Nella Rose, for winter escapism and light entertainment.

Amid the jokes and joviality however, sentient beings have been eaten alive, crushed, thrown, confined to small spaces, and subjected to unnatural environments in the show’s two-decade history.

“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,’” Packham writes.

Moreover, he highlights the juxtaposition between a world “seriously imperiled by climate breakdown and biodiversity loss” and a programme that uses the “wilful abuse of animals” for laughs. At present, one species is dying every 10 minutes, research from last year showed.

A long history of concern

In the letter, Packham says that he has written to Ant and Dec about the show’s animal abuse in the past and never received a reply. “I’ve tried to be polite but my patience has run thin,” he wrote on X.

Animal rights groups have criticized I’m A Celebrity for years. Last year, campaigners at PETA called on Ant and Dec to step down to avoid being complicit in animal abuse. In 2019, it was reported that the show had implemented a ban on eating live insects.

“Read the writing on the wall”

To highlight the show’s outdated model, Packham lists other examples of animals being used for entertainment that the UK public generally condemns. This includes dancing bears, cock and dog fights, and performing dolphins.

“Look at the world, listen to the voices of concern, read the writing on the wall,” Packham urges. Instead of abusing animals, I’m A Celebrity could use its popularity to “celebrate wildlife and its conservation,” he suggests.

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