The Springwatch host has repeatedly made his feelings clear over the years about the way animals are used in I’m A Celebrity, and shared an open letter to its presenters on Monday evening.
“I have written to you before but you have never replied so I thought l’d write again,” he began, addressing the presenting duo directly. “My letters were polite, reasonable and constructive. This time I’ll be a little more frank and forthright.”
Chris wrote: “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here remains a grotesque blot on the reputations of both yourselves and ITV.
“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 shit.”
He continued: “You may see little or no connection between the global extermination event that humans are precipitating and [I’m A Celebrity], but it’s all about attitudes and education.
“Without a fundamental respect for life, all life, it is difficult for those of us who care to bring enough people on board to initiate essential action to protect and actively restore the world’s wildlife.
“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. Just for amusement.”
Read Chris’ full letter below:
By way of response, an ITV spokesperson told HuffPost UK on Tuesday: “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.”
HuffPost UK has also contacted Ant and Dec’s team for comment.
The use of live animals as part of I’m A Celebrity’s trials has long been a divisive issue among viewers, but this year the show has been at the centre of controversy for a whole other reason.
Among this year’s campmates is Nigel Farage, with many viewers voicing their upset about the former UKIP leader’s involvement, and some even going as far as boycotting the series.
In the wake of the backlash, it was revealed that this year’s launch show was the least-watched since the very first series of I’m A Celebrity began more than two decades ago.