'I'm A Celeb...' was embroiled in an animal cruelty storm after contestant Ferne McCann ate a live spider as part of the show's Bushtucker Trial.
Despite a large number of complaints of cruelty, ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ has avoided an investigation by the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom as it was satisfied with ITV’s explanations of how the incident was “in keeping” with audience expectations.
The recent fifteenth season of the perennial endurance / reality show ended last month, but the December 6th episode featured one of the programme’s infamous Bushtucker Trials that saw contestant Ferne McCann eat a live spider. The show has frequently seen contestants eat invertebrate creatures such as insects, but this was considered by many to be overstepping the mark into animal cruelty.
Ferne McCann was at the centre of the spider-eating incident on 'I'm A Celebrity...'
As a result, Ofcom and ITV received 1,448 complaints, but a spokesperson for the watchdog said on Monday (January 11th) that it won’t be undertaking any further investigations into what happened because of the mitigating steps ITV had taken beforehand, such as footage selection and avoiding use of vertebrate creatures.
“We received a number of complaints about a contestant on this programme eating a live spider as part of a challenge, but won't be taking the matter forward for investigation,” the spokesperson said.
“In our view, this task was in keeping with the well-established format of this reality series and was unlikely to have exceeded audience expectations. We also took into account that ITV had taken steps to limit any offence resulting from the inclusion of this task.”
ITV has faced complaints of this nature before, most memorably in 2009 when TV chef Gino D’Acampo and actor Stuart Manning were accused of animal cruelty by the RSPCA when they killed, cooked and ate a rat on the show.
‘I’m A Celebrity…’ was won in 2015 by ‘Geordie Shore’ star Vicky Pattison, with pop star George Shelley in second and the aforementioned McCann, a cast member of ‘The Only Way is Essex’, coming third.