Chris Packham Lodges ‘Grotesque’ Accusation At ‘I’m A Celebrity’

I'm A Celebrity Under Fire From Renowned Naturalist

Naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham. Credit: ChrisGPackham/

‘I’M A CELEBRITY. . .Get Me Out Of Here!’ is currently being screened on ITV. However, last year alone the RSPCA received 17,000 complaints due to the programme’s treatment of animals and now naturalist Chris Packham has added his voice in condemnation.

In an open letter, posted on Monday, November 27, Packham raises the question, is entertainment at the cost of wildlife ethical? In a passionate plea, he has urged a major overhaul in the ITV show ‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!’

Metro writes that Packham, a renowned 62-year-old wildlife presenter and environmental advocate, expressed his frustration on the social media platform Twitter/X.

He criticised the show’s hosts, Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, for what he terms as ‘the ongoing appalling abuse of animals’. His two-page letter, shared online, marks another attempt to influence the programme’s format, primarily filmed in Australia.

Packham’s Online Appeal

Addressing his letter directly to the show’s hosts, Ant and Dec, he writes:  ‘I’m A Celebrity remains a grotesque blot on the reputations of both yourselves and ITV,’ before adding ‘Its continued exploitation of animals for entertainment is an anachronistic embarrassment. . .’

Packham added that he was writing in his own capacity and ‘not as President of the RSPCA,’ and added that in 2022 the society received 17,000 complaints about the ‘wilful abuse of animals and the reinforcement of negative stereotypes.’

Celebrity Trials Under Scrutiny

Packham’s criticism targets the series’ infamous bushtucker trials. These segments, have involved celebrities such as Nigel Farage and Nella Rose, have raised questions about the use of animals for entertainment.

He cited instances of participants consuming scorpions and mealworms as well as being covered in insects, rats and snakes. Packham emphasises the moral responsibility towards all forms of life, highlighting that the programme, now in its 23rd series, ‘does it for laughs. Just for entertainment.’

Many agreed with his sentiments: ‘I absolutely loathe I’m a Celebrity and wrote to Ofcom when it first aired, 20 years ago. Abusing wildlife for the purposes of entertainment has surely had its day and I think the format is tired and ready to be put out to pasture,’ wrote one.

Another comment read: ‘I absolutely support you on this. I stopped watching several years ago as the trials got more and more repulsive. The disregard for the animals & reducing them to parts for entertainment is revolting and disgusting . Shame on Ant & Dec & everyone involved.’

One the use of rats in some of the jungle challenges one person posted: ‘As someone whose rescued a lot of pet rats & loves them dearly I find the use of them particularly hard to watch, they’re such emotionally intelligent animals who would be absolutely petrified in the situations they are put in. If they were using kittens there would be outrage.’

Direct Appeal To Dec

The letter raises the issue of the programme’s influence on education and attitudes towards animal welfare. In a direct appeal to Dec, aged 48, Packham  urges him to consider the impact of his actions on his young children, Isla and Jack.

Packham questions how Dec’s daughter would view his involvement in a show contributing to wildlife decline and climate change. He argues that ITV’s financial gains, estimated at £2 billion, should not override ethical considerations.

Proposed Reforms And ITV’s Response

The outspoken naturalist highlighted the dip in the show’s ratings, ‘maybe your viewers need a change of format.’ He suggests a shift in the show’s approach, advocating for an educational component to celebrate wildlife and urging ITV to allocate some profits towards conservation.

In response, ITV has defended their practices, stating their adherence to legal standards and prioritising animal welfare. They emphasised their transparent protocols and the presence of expert animal handlers during trials.

The Australian counterpart of the series has already implemented changes, with new host Robert Irwin announcing the discontinuation of wildlife use in their challenges. The Australian show will now use sustainably farmed animals in its eating trials.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • Mike George

      29 November 2023 • 12:18

      the guy is a complete idiot and he seriously needs treatment

    • R and D

      29 November 2023 • 16:04

      Hope I’m A Celebrity finishes. It has had its day.

    Comments are closed.