How Ethical Really Is “I’m A Celeb”?

I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! is one of the most popular and well-loved British reality TV shows going, and has now been running for an astonishing 17 years. Just in case you aren’t already familiar with I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, it revolves around a number of celebrity contestants living together in the jungle for several weeks, competing in a variety of wacky, and often seriously gruesome challenges, in attempt to be crowned either King or Queen of the jungle as voted by the great British public. The show remains hugely popular, so much so that best new bingo sites are even producing play-along games to accompany the show. In past years we have seen celebs such as singer Stacy Soloman, television personality Georgia Toffolo, and actor Joe Pasquale feature on the show.

The bushtucker trials are perhaps the most horrific of the programme’s challenges. The celebs are tasked with chomping down deliberately repulsive foods, such as live spiders, cockroaches, fish eyes and kangaroo testicles. However, in this year’s series, the use of live animals in the eating trials has been banned, following years of protest and complaint from vegans and animal rights activists.

Autumnwatch’s Chris Packham was one of the most prominent figures to slam the show for its live animal use. On multiple occasions, he begged ITV to stop using animals during the bushtucker trials, claiming that it was like something from the “Middle Ages.” Packham wrote an open letter to the programme’s presenters Ant and Dec, back in 2014, expressing his anger and frustration. For many years, the show continued to use live animals, but only now has finally called an end on this element of the bushtucker trials.

However, whilst live animals will not be used during the eating trials of the 2019 series, the show is still facing significant criticism as live animals will still be used in other challenges, and many believe that eating animals, dead or alive, within the show is still extremely cruel. A fresh bout of criticism has come from the British veterinary community, who sent an open letter to I’m A Celeb’s producers earlier on this year. They have urged that whenever snakes were used during the 2018 series of the show, the reptiles were showing clear signs of distress. The veterinary community heavily expressed their concerns over these animals’ wellbeing and argued that compliance with the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 was not at all met. They also expressed their concerns over how the show’s normalisation of the mistreatment of exotic animals sets a bad example to the public.

In a recent survey by the veterinary profession, it was reported that nearly 50% of exotic pets were not having their proper welfare requirements met. The British Veterinary Association has been encouraging viewers of I’m A Celebrity to think very carefully before committing to an exotic pet, as the level of care and attention that these animals require is often severely underestimated, and the veterinary community is worried that the show will only contribute to this misconception.

However, whilst I’m A Celeb definitely has some room for improvement when it comes to animal welfare, it is still as popular as ever, and a much loved programme. Although the use of live animals in other challenges is not ideal, at least producers have begun to make a step in the right direction by axing the use of live animals from the eating trials. Many people were initially concerned that this would spoil the appeal and fun of the show, but the 2019 series as proven otherwise. I’m A Celeb is still as great as ever, and fans have been as hooked as they usually are.

In fact, this year, these hooked fans can have a more interactive experience of the show via joke-bingo cards created for optimum entertainment. The game features downloadable bingo cards, so you can either play online via your phone or tablet, or print the cards out, making playing along with the show with friends and family super easy. The numbers that you would typically have on a bingo card have instead been replaced with classic I’m A Celeb scenarios, such as “a famous sports person teaches a campmate their moves” or “The campmates fantasise about their favourite foods”. As and when these scenarios play out, you simply check these scenarios off the bingo card, and the first players to check all the scenarios off their card wins. It’s that straightforward, and this game makes for some brilliant viewing and a great evening in!

Perhaps next year, the I’m A Celeb producers will make the right, and more ethical, decision to axe the use of live animals from the show entirely. But for now, at least, we won’t have to watch any live spiders being munched down, and we can enjoy the show alongside a fun game of bingo of two. 

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