Police in Wales are investigating ITV’s “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” over concerns that the reality program is using non-native bugs in the Welsh countryside.
TV host and naturalist Iolo Williams called the reality show out on Twitter, prompting the investigation.
“It appears that #imacelebrity made no licence application to @NatResWales to release non-native species into the wild,” he tweeted. “This now becomes an issue for @HeddluGogCymru to ascertain whether offences have been committed. Over to you @NWPRuralCrime“
The concern is that the show’s use of non-native cockroaches, maggots, spiders and worms in challenges meant to gross out — and weed out — contestants could threaten wildlife in the 250-acre estate surrounding Gwrych Castle in north Wales. The current season is being filmed there, rather than the series’ typical setting of the Australian jungle.
Williams called the use of non-native species “madness,” according to The Guardian.
“I’m not sure which species they’re releasing, but I can tell you they’re not native,” he said. “We don’t have those cockroaches here in the UK and we certainly don’t have them in north Wales.”
A spokesperson for ITV told The Guardian that all of the insects used were non-invasive species.
“They are only ever released in a contained area and collected immediately after filming,” the ITV spokesperson said. “They are all purchased commercially within the UK and are normally bred as animal food.”
TheWrap did not immediately hear back from our request for comment on this story from ITV.
Williams believes the show cannot actually contain the sheer number of tiny insects it is working with.
“There are going to be cockroaches in every nook and cranny along their bodies, you’re going to tell me that every single one of those is found immediately? Of course it’s not,” he said. “Cockroaches are the ultimate survivors, and if they survive in north Wales and escape into the wild there, what effect are they going to have? I don’t know, nobody knows … I just find it incredible that they’re allowed to do this, and I’m not being a killjoy here. Why not use fish guts, or offal?”
TheWrap reached out to Williams’ agent for more on this story, but we did not immediately receive a reply.
Natural Resources Wales, which gives out licenses for the release of species, did not receive an application from ITV to release non-native species, The Guardian wrote. If the species have been released without a license, it would be a breach of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
“North Wales Police and Natural Resources Wales have received information regarding the potential release of non-native species into ‘non studio’ areas, and we have given suitable advice to the production team regarding their set management and biosecurity,” a spokesperson for the North Wales Police told TheWrap.
“We will not be commenting further on this matter,” the police spokesman said.
See Williams’ initial tweet below.
It appears that #imacelebrity made no licence application to @NatResWales to release non-native species into the wild. This now becomes an issue for @HeddluGogCymru to ascertain whether offences have been committed. Over to you @NWPRuralCrime
— Iolo Williams (@IoloWilliams2) November 24, 2020
Read The Guardian’s story here.