I'm A Celebrity makes history by banning 'cruel' live insect eating

This year, contestants will not have to consume live bugs during the bushtucker trials

I'm A Celebrity

This year, contestants will not have to consume live bugs during the bushtucker trials

If you've ever tuned in to I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!, you'll know that for years the jungle-based show has delighted viewers by making sometimes intolerable celebrities chow down on wriggling bugs.

But in a I’m A Celebrity first, this year's contestants will not have to consume live insects during bushtucker trials, after animal charities, wildlife experts and fans of the show dubbed it 'cruel' and 'dated'. Admittedly, it was quite disturbing watching reality TV star Ferne McCann eat a live water spider in 2015 (it prompted 1,500 complaints to TV watchdog Ofcom).

The stars will now only be served bugs already dead in the trials, and a source told BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat, 'I'm A Celebrity producers have taken a look at the trials and decided that no live critters would be eaten in the trials this year. They have been planning this for some time and actually last year beach worms were the only critters eaten live but this time around they've decided to implement the change fully and permanently.'

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BBC Autumn Watch presenter Chris Packham has been vocal on his view about the show, filmed in Australia, encouraging animal cruelty. In a tweet before ITV confirmed its permanent change on insect-eating, Chris tweeted the show's hosts, Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, writing, 'I’d like to call upon your consciences to reconsider the validity of your bushtucker trials, to cease these and to end all involvement of animals in your forthcoming series.'

'Since around the time you were both born we have lost between 40 and 50% of all worlds wildlife. We are currently losing species of animals, plants and fungi at a rate 1,000 to 10,000 times faster that what is measured as natural. You would not ask your contestants to eat a live baby monkey, but in ecological terms a monkey is no more valuable, no more important that a grub or a spider or cricket.’

The nature show presenter later commented to BBC Radio 5 Live that he was 'very pleased' at ITV's decision, adding, 'What's long concerned me about the programme is that is portrays animals in the wrong way. There was never any ambiguity that eating live invertebrates was abuse and also exploitation for entertainment.'

Meanwhile, an online user commented, 'It is so dated and cruel to use any critters whatsoever. Makes me weep when they use baby crocs with their mouths taped up etc. The challenges without animals/insects are much more fun and interesting'.

We agree - animals, no matter how small, should not be used for entertainment.

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Olivia – who rebranded as Liv a few years ago – is a freelance digital writer at Marie Claire UK. She recently swapped guaranteed sunshine and a tax-free salary in Dubai for London’s constant cloud and overpriced public transport. During her time in the Middle East, Olivia worked for international titles including Cosmopolitan, HELLO! and Grazia. She transitioned from celebrity weekly magazine new! in London, where she worked as the publication’s Fitness & Food editor. Unsurprisingly, she likes fitness and food, and also enjoys hoarding beauty products and recycling.