Peta calling for 'I'm a Celebrity' boycott over 'incredibly horrific' bushtucker trials

Watch: Ant and Dec appear in promo clip for I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here

Animal rights group Peta has called on the British public to boycott the new series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here as the reality show "brings more cruelty to our screens".

The organisation criticised the infamous bushtucker trials, which often feature contestants interacting with creatures including insects, reptiles and rodents.

Read more: Chris Packham criticises bushtucker trials

Jennifer White, media and communications manager for Peta UK, told Metro that it is "incredibly disappointing" for the show to continue with the same format despite the change of setting from Australia to a Welsh castle due to COVID-19.

She added: "Animals are terrified and abused and killed for these challenges and it’s all for a cheap laugh."

Vernon Kay endures the Table of Torment on 'I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!' (ITV/Shutterstock)
Vernon Kay endures the Table of Torment on 'I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!' (ITV/Shutterstock) (ITV/Shutterstock)

White noted that the show no longer includes challenges in which live animals are eaten, but said it still features "animals being treated in these incredibly horrific ways, all to try and up their TV ratings".

She added: "If we were seeing dogs and cats being eaten alive and trampled on by the celebrities there would be absolute uproar and we would have seen a ban already."

Read more: Cow's teat features in grotesque bushtucker trial

White said Peta believes public opinion to be turning away from the show's use of animals — almost 20 years after it first appeared on screens.

Ofcom received around 1,000 complaints about last year's series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here and the regulator said most of those related to animal welfare.

The RSPCA encouraged viewers to contact Ofcom in reference to the show's use of live animals in bushtucker trials.

Last year, ITV said the show "complies with animal welfare law concerning the use of animals and we are proud of our exemplary production practices".

This series has already faced criticism after a promotional clip featured Ant McPartlin riding a very small Shetland pony.

ITV said the animal was trained specifically for film and TV and that "the safety and wellbeing of the horses and pony used for filming were of utmost priority to everyone".

Read more: Richard Madeley teases I'm a Celebrity appearance

The celebrity line-up for this year's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here has yet to be officially announced, but rumoured contestants include Richard Madeley, Louise Minchin and ex-footballer David Ginola.

The show is due to return to ITV screens on 21 November.

Watch: Ant and Dec react to cast for 2021 series of I'm a Celebrity