With I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! returning to our screens this Sunday, the nation is readying itself for another series of Bush tucker trials, gratuitous shower scenes and creepy-crawlies.
But it’s the latter which has been causing controversy, as animal rights supporters come out to brand the show’s treatment of animals as ‘out-of-date’ and ‘barbaric’.
Former King of the Jungle Gino D’Acampo, who is currently in Manchester for the Ideal Home Show, came under fire in 2009, after Australian police force charged him and fellow contestant Stuart Manning with animal cruelty for killing and cooking a rat.
But his run-in with the law did nothing to reform the chef’s opinions on this issue.
“I don’t really care – it’s their problem, it’s their show,” he said. “If I need to start to care about animal cruelty on a show, then I should care about animal cruelty all over the world.
“You can’t just pick on one particular show because that is the big show of the moment. People should care more in general.”
The cruelty claims have not yet affected the show’s popularity, with their last series raking in an average of 10.66 million viewers – though the King of the Jungle was not among the fans.
Gino said: “To be honest with you, I never watch the show and I will never watch the show, because I have many other things that I have to do.
“I didn’t even watch it when I was on, when I won! They sent me the DVD, but it’s still somewhere in a box.”
Chris Packham, a naturalist and presenter who hosted the Really Wild Show in the 80s, penned an open letter to Ant and Dec in his Radio Times column.
“I’m afraid I can guarantee that some animals are harmed during production, because they are fragile or easily distressed – or simply killed,” he wrote.
He called out the presenters personally, saying: “I’m sorry, but that is a shame that I imagine neither of you will want to take to your graves.
“The show has been running for years now. Surely it’s time for it to mature. You should put an end to this inhumane, embarrassing and destructive aspect of an otherwise great show.”
Gino conceded that there was an issue with animal cruelty.
He said: “I should care more in general. I think we should all more in general. But I don’t spend my day and my life thinking about it.”
Image courtesy of ITV via YouTube, with thanks.