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ITV issues statement after Chris Packham slammed 'grotesque money-grabbers' Ant and Dec

Rhianna Benson

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ITV issues statement after Chris Packham slammed 'grotesque money-grabbers' Ant and Dec

Featured Image Credit: ITV/Lia Toby/WireImage

In the 21 years since it first aired on ITV, I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! viewers have faced backlash from viewers on countless occasions.

Whether it be allegations of bullying, controversial conversations, medical concerns or mental health wellbeing, the popular reality show accumulates masses of complaints every year.

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One of the most common reasons why I'm A Celeb producers of the gruelling Aussie reality series find themselves in hot water, however, is for their treatment of animals on the show.

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In 2009, ITV producers were forced to apologise after celebrity chef Gino D'Acampo and actor Stuart Manning killed and ate a rat on the show.

Both contestants later being charged by New South Wales Police following complaints from RSPCA Australia.

Six years later, OFCOM received 694 complaints from the public over allegations of 'animal cruelty for entertainment' after TOWIE star Ferne McCann ate a live water spider during a Bushtucker Trial.

Gino D'Acampo and Stuart Manning killed and ate a rat in 2009. Credit: YouTube/ITV
Gino D'Acampo and Stuart Manning killed and ate a rat in 2009. Credit: YouTube/ITV
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But this week, wildlife expert Chris Packham has slammed the show's presenters Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly as 'grotesque' animal cruelty apologists.

Starting his critical report of the presenting pair on X, Chris wrote: "Dear Ant and Dec, I hope you are both in good health. I have written to you before but you have never replied so I thought I'd write again.

"My letters were polite, reasonable and constructive. This time I'II be a little more frank and forthright."

He went on: "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here' remains a grotesque blot on the reputations of both yourselves and ITV.

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"Its continued exploitation of animals for entertainment is an anachronistic embarrassment and betrays a dangerous disconnect between a world increasingly concerned with an environmental crisis, and a reckless and marginalised part of the media which doesn't appear to give a s**t."

Ferne MccCann ate a live water spider in 2015. Credit: ITV
Ferne MccCann ate a live water spider in 2015. Credit: ITV

Chris - who himself is President of the RSPCA - revealed the charity had received 17,000 complaints over the show's alleged abuse of animals.

"I and all those people, many of whom I have no doubt will be fans of yours and of the work you have done and do, are sick of your perceived disregard for animal welfare and the way that we feel about it," he penned.

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The presenter then accused the pair of seeing no connection between the global extermination event that humans are precipitating" and the show.

"I spend my life trying to engender that respect, your programme recklessly countermands that, and what's absolutely pitiful, is that it does it for laughs," he slammed.

Ant and Dec have come under fire over alleged animal cruelty. Credit: ITV
Ant and Dec have come under fire over alleged animal cruelty. Credit: ITV

"Just for amusement. Twenty eight percent of the worlds monitored species are threatened with extinction. Is that funny? Is that a laugh? Well maybe you just don't care?"

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Chris went on to accuse the pair of being too preoccupied with the financial rewards they receive from the presenting stint.

"But it's also about money isn't it. In March the TV channel and on-demand service reported studio revenue of more than £2b and I'm told that IACGMOOH is the biggest single banker for ITV.

"A Google search also suggests that your highest paid participant this year will receive £1.5 million. Speculative figures for your own earnings are also widely published. "

Chris Packham slammed the presenters in a strongly worded letter. Credit: Getty
Chris Packham slammed the presenters in a strongly worded letter. Credit: Getty

ITV have since responded to Chris' accusations, however.

"We are always fully transparent about our protocols and we have a very strict environmental plan in place on the show," a spokesperson said in a statement.

"As a production, we comply with all regional and national laws concerning the use of insects, animals and reptiles."

ITV went on: "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.

The presenter shared his letter on X. Credit: X/@chrispackham
The presenter shared his letter on X. Credit: X/@chrispackham

"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."

Topics: Animals, ITV, Im A Celebrity, Ant and Dec

Rhianna Benson
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