Rula Lenska: ‘I’m a Celebrity’ Is No Place for Animals

Posted by on November 30, 2020 | Permalink

By Rula Lenska

What’s so entertaining about watching people crush cockroaches to death, treat spiders like props, and shove live rats and snakes into helmets, terrorising them?

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There’s absolutely nothing amusing or entertaining about abusing animals, though the “brain trust” responsible for I’m a Celebrity … Get Me out of Here! will apparently resort to anything for a cheap laugh. The stunts I mentioned (misleadingly called “bushtucker trials” by the producers) are just a sampling of those that victimised animals during past series.

This abuse is why I have never been on the show and never will be. I have been asked whether I’d be interested several times but have always declined for many reasons, like these irresponsible, inhumane stunts from the show’s sordid history:

  • A pig’s testicles were torn open.
  • Flies and cockroaches were used to make a milkshake.
  • Contestants put live grasshoppers in their mouths.
  • They ate a fish’s eyes and a crocodile’s penis.

This is sick humour. Unlike the celebrities, who appear on the show willingly, the snakes, rats, and other animals have no choice. Like us, they want to live free from abuse and fear, and they should have that right – but instead, they endure extreme stress and confinement and often even pay with their lives. Who are we to gauge what animals feel? All animals, no matter how great or small, are sentient beings and are here on this Earth for a purpose – and that purpose is not human entertainment. The show not only conveys a flippant disregard for their welfare but also sends a harmful message to viewers that cruelty to animals is acceptable and even entertaining.

Animals deserve respect. My friends at PETA have called on the group’s members and supporters to prod ITV to do the right thing and ensure that I’m a Celebrity stops abusing animals. I’m asking my caring fans to do the same.

Here’s why we must speak up now: when the show came under fire after a contestant crushed dozens of cockroaches to death – and was left with their remnants stuck to his hands, neck, and face – a spokesperson brushed off the complaints, saying that the show “complies with all regional and national laws concerning the use of insects, animals and reptiles”.

Several years ago, Ofcom received some 1,500 complaints after a contestant ate a live spider. But the government’s media watchdog gave the show a pass. No surprise there. Ofcom has dismissed other calls to investigate because it reasoned that eating live insects was “in keeping with the well-established format” of the series.

I’m a Celebrity isn’t the only series to make light of abusing animals. Bear Grylls has angered viewers, animal protection groups, and our great Sir David Attenborough with The Island, on which contestants kill crocodiles, pigs, and turkeys. One star appearing on the show was goaded into jumping on a crocodile’s back and stabbing him in the neck.

Now for the good news: after a PETA appeal, ITV’s Take Me Out no longer sends its loved-up couples off on camel rides, a truly laudable decision that discourages viewers from supporting the abusive animal-tourism industry. I’m a Celebrity would do well to take note. Many travel agencies finally no longer advertise or support elephant rides, and the vile bear-bile trade in China and Vietnam is slowly but surely being brought to an end. Sadly, poaching and trophy hunting still continue, and even here in the UK, badger baiting, fox hunting, and cruelty to companion animals still take place.

I can only imagine the terror of the animals on I’m a Celebrity when huge hands grasp them, when they’re trodden on, and when humans put them in their mouths while they’re still alive. I am sure the production company can find many other frightening and disgusting trials for the contestants that don’t involve terrorising insects and other animals. Cruelty to any living, feeling being is repulsive. As, supposedly, the most intelligent mammals on the planet, we have a voice. Let’s use it to help all animals in need.

Let’s begin right now.