Is “I’m A Celebrity” In Danger Of Breaching The Law?
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 4 seconds.
Fronted by presenting duo Ant and Dec, ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ is now in its 18th series, having becoming a flagship show for ITV. It parachutes a group of well-known faces from footballers, singers to politicians into the Australian Outback for a three-week survival competition.
Whilst this is unmissable viewing and has provided some truly unforgettable moments that will live on in TV history, there are several legal issues surrounding the programme that make for interesting discussion.
Disclaimer on Jurisdiction
Firstly, it’s important to address the issue of jurisdiction. In practical terms; any litigation of the issues mentioned in the article would be under the law of New South Wales. However, since there is never likely to be a problem and issues are merely being discussed out of interest, the article will address them from an English perspective.
Given that the celebrities spend weeks in rural New South Wales without modern commodities, they must find a way to maintain hygiene. This takes the form of a shower which is built for the programme and is in effect a man-made waterfall.
The content and decency aspect of the show came under scrutiny when Myleene Klass donned a white bikini to shower back in 2006. As attitudes have shifted over time, some have questioned whether such spectacles are suitable to be aired on television.
The Office of Communications (OFCOM) is responsible for regulating the content which airs on television and radio in the United Kingdom. Owing to this responsibility under the Communications Act 2003 and Broadcasting Act 1996; the body has drawn up a list of codes that media outlets must follow.
With the issue of nudity coming into question, regulators aim to protect children from being exposed to such content. The code defines a child as anyone under the age of 15 and achieves it’s salient objective by imposing a watershed on television networks.
The watershed is set at 21:00 and any material unsuitable for children should not, in general, be shown before 21:00 or after 05:30. Section 1.21 of the code stipulates nudity can only be shown outside of these hours, if the context is justified. However, since the show never airs before 21:00, the law would suggest that ITV have done enough and the responsibility ultimately rests with the individual to only watch what they deem suitable.
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One of the key points of the programme is exposing the celebrities to gruesome ordeals such as rats and cockroaches to name just two. However, there is a growing debate that many of the Bushtucker Trials are in contravention of animal rights and should be halted. There have been many questionable incidents raising eyebrows such as:
In 2018, a crocodile appeared to have its mouth taped shut during a trial
In 2016 Carol Vorderman ate a live spider during a trial
In the UK, such concerns would fall under the scope of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The likely offence committed would be one of unnecessary suffering under Section 4. S.4(1)Animal Welfare Act 2006 states a person commits an offence if:
An act of his/hers, or a failure of his/hers to act, causes an animal to suffer,
He/She knew, or ought reasonably to have known, that the act, or failure to act, would have that effect or be likely to do so,
Having identified the offence, we must break it down to see if the animals involved in the show are protected. An animal is protected under Section 2 if:
It is of a kind which is commonly domesticated in the British Islands,
It is under the control of man whether on a permanent or temporary basis, or
It is not living in a wild state
The problem is that crocodiles and spiders are not domesticated and in many cases are wild. In addition, the Act has been known to only cover vertebrates which causes some problem with creatures such as cockroaches.
There are some aspects of the show which are of legal interest. However, after 15 years it is safe to assume that ITV and ‘I’m A Celebrity’ comply with all legislation both in England and Australia. After a thorough analysis, the objections seem to have nothing more than a moral grounding.
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