Wildlife TV presenter and conservationist Chris Packham continued to criticise I'm A Celebrity - but says he could join the show and help to make it less cruel to animals.
Earlier this week Chris, 62, wrote an open letter to Ant and Dec branded ITV's jungle series "grotesque" and "exploitative" over its use of animals for entertainment. The RSPCA agreed with him and said on 'X' "reptiles, rodents and insects are thrown, crushed alive, confined to spaces, and killed throughout the 20 years the show's been airing", urging viewers to complain.
Yesterday Chris doubled down on his comments and added: "It's time for them [Ant & Dec] to stand up and be counted at a time when we all have to do so if we want a healthy, sustainable future for our children and grandchildren."
Appearing on Channel 5's The Jeremy Vine Show, he was asked if he would go onto the show as a campmate. Chris replied: “I think after the raft of letters that I've written off over the years, I would probably be the last on the list to be invited to the jungle.
"But here's one thing. If they dropped those trials and if they put in a role for someone who would communicate with the participants the importance of these animals and frankly, how extraordinarily lucky they are to be spending time in a rainforest, a place where many people never have the, you know, the fortune to visit, which is full of life, then, you know, they need someone like me to be there as an educator to engage people with these animals and talk about how important they are. And wouldn't that be a fantastic change for ITV on a flagship program like this with an audience of millions?”
Jeremy Vine also read out a viewer’s comment on Facebook that said: “The animals are not harmed and are well looked after by trained people. This is nothing to worry about.” Chris responded to the comment and said: “I just saw that clip - were those cockroaches being well looked after? Were the green ants being well looked after? When you see the toads in the enclosures, don't tell me these animals aren't stressed and don't tell me they're not being harmed. We can't make those artificial judgments. You know, people wouldn't be doing it with kittens and puppies, would they?”
In 2019, Chris pleaded with Dec to "think how his daughter will perceive his actions" in an interview. He went on to claim to us last year that the ITV show doused the jungle with insecticide to stop bugs from biting the star contestants. He also wrote a letter via Radio Times in 2014 making similar complaints.
In response to his latest letter, ITV responded with a lengthy statement defending the show and saying they were doing nothing wrong. A spokesman said: "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.
"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."