By Sian Hopkins | Comment Editor
There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the set up for ‘I’m a Celebrity’ since this year it will be located in North Wales, rather than Australia. Due to this change, there is a large possibility that the bushtucker trials will go under review in regards to the animals and insects used in the challenges. This is mainly because of the difference in accessibility to other species in Wales compared to Australia and also a difference in rights for those animals.
The discussion surrounding animal rights and the show is not something the show hasn’t come across before. Regularly the show receives hundreds of complaints from organisations like PETA UK, regarding the unnecessary harm and exploitation of the animals they use. A couple of years ago, the show removed the use of live insects in the trials that involved the celebrities eating the insect. PETA UK urges readers to petition against the show as ‘unlike the celebrity contestants, who volunteer to be on the show, the animals are not there by choice’, and endure stressful conditions and more often than not, some sort of harm or death.
Animal rights activism to boycott the show hit a peak last year in 2019 after one trial involving Andrew Maxwell saw dozens of cockroaches crushed on live TV. The Daily Mail reported on the incident quoting numerous animal rights charities, including PETA, that the trial was ‘tacky and moronic’, and would have caused a larger public outcry if the animals killed were considered cute. After this particular trial, there have been many speculations as to whether cockroaches will be added to the list of live animals no longer used on the show, already including scorpions and beetles.
Within the same Daily Mail article, a spokesperson for ‘I’m A Celebrity’ explained that anything on the show complied with the regional and national laws in Australia regarding insects, reptiles and animals. They continue to try to justify their treatment of the animals by commenting that they inform the RSPCA NSW about all of the activities shown on TV. This excuse cannot be used for this year’s show, as with the change in location it is uncertain how the producers plan to continue the familiar bushtucker trials whilst under the eye of Welsh law and the RSPCA.
The pressure placed on the necessary need for abolishing animal cruelty demonstrated on the show by organisations like PETA is sure to rise for ITV as they need to navigate how to continue an entertaining and well-loved show under stricter animal rights guidelines.