Packham slams 'puerile' abuse of animals on I'm a Celebrity
Bushtucker trials are a 'farce' because 'venomous' creatures are disabled to protect celebrities
NATURALIST Chris Packham has attacked the ITV reality show I'm a Celebrity for its "out-dated and puerile abuse of animals".
The Springwatch star slammed the show's so-called 'Bushtucker trials', in which a hapless Z-list celebrity is chosen to perform a task - generally involving close contact with slimy, venomous or toothy animals - in return for food.
Packham called the trials a "pathetic farce", noting that none of the celebrities is ever in any danger: "The tiny crocodiles have their mouths gagged, the spiders have their fangs covered or removed, the snakes are non-venomous and the whole area has been drenched in insecticide so the poor things don't get too pestered by biting insects."
Packham has spent his career on TV shows that celebrate wildlife. His no-nonsense views on conservation - such as his belief that pandas should be allowed to go extinct because the money could be better spent elsewhere - have won him as much respect as his refusal to dumb down the science in his programmes.
Packham told the Daily Mirror he "dreads this time of year" because of I'm a Celebrity. His own live Springwatch and Autumnwatch shows on the BBC could be described as a rather more staid form of reality TV. But Packham says it isn't I'm a Celebrity's format he minds: just the show's "idiotic, out-dated and puerile abuse of animals".
Referring to his own TV shows, he says: "We don't just go for the cute and cuddly, we champion the ugly and unpopular too and I work really hard to win new audiences over to the wonder and real value of nature."
In contrast, Packham believes I'm a Celebrity promotes "medieval-style exploitation". He asks: "Why not flog, birch, tar and feather or hang, draw and quarter the contestants as well?
"After all, these practices date from the same periods when animal baiting was popular entertainment."