'I'm A Celebrity' avoids Ofcom investigation over bullying claims and animal welfare concerns

·TV Reporter, Yahoo Entertainment UK
(ITV)
(ITV)

I’m A Celebrity will not face an Ofcom investigation of the 2019 series, despite hundreds of complaints over bullying and animal welfare.

The jungle-based ITV reality show sparked a flurry of complaints to media regulator Ofcom over subjects including rows between contestants, a flippant comment about a medical condition, and the treatment of creatures used in the show’s trials.

Read more: Jacqueline Jossa ‘gave Dan Osborne hell’ for two years

Rugby player James Haskell prompted the greatest number of complaints, with 119 people lodging concerns over his jibe that ex-England footballer Ian Wright had “a clubfoot”.

An Ofcom spokesperson said: “We fully understand some viewers considered it offensive to make light of a congenital medical condition.

"But we took into account that the comment was brief, the conversation moved quickly on, and it did not elicit any reaction or endorsement from other contestants."

Wright came in for criticism too, with 83 complaints that he was bullying his fellow contestant, comedian Andrew Maxwell.

Although the pair frequently fell out, Maxwell claimed after leaving the show that they got on well and that any tension was down to lack of food.

Read more: James Haskell and Andrew Maxwell clash in camp

The Ofcom spokesperson commented: "In our view, the content would have been within the audience's expectations for this long-running programme, which often shows contestants under a degree of physical and emotional stress, as well as scenes of tension between contestants."

I’m A Celebrity’s third controversy was one that comes up each series – concerns over the welfare of jungle critters used in the show’s famous challenges which include large numbers of them being tipped over screaming contestants.

But despite 102 complaints, the Ofcom spokesperson said: “While we understand some viewers may have been troubled, the use of insects and animals is consistent with the format of this long-running series, and there was no evidence of mistreatment.”

Wildlife expert Chris Packham has said he sends a letter to the show every year asking them to consider scrapping challenges using live creatures.

This year’s series was won by former EastEnders star Jacqueline Jossa.