I'm A Celebrity rapped over trial
Published 08/04/2013 | 13:17
Hit show I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! breached the broadcasting code by offending viewers when it placed contestant Charlie Brooks' seven-year-old daughter in a position which "could be characterised as a form of a prize", watchdog Ofcom has ruled.
Last year's ITV series sparked 66 complaints when EastEnders star Brooks, who would later be crowned jungle queen, was left heartbroken after she and her young child Kiki missed out on seeing each other in a trial.
Ofcom ruled that the show, presented by Ant and Dec, had taken due care of Kiki's "emotional welfare" and that there was no evidence that it had caused her "unnecessary distress or anxiety".
But it stated that the 12th series of the show, which also featured ex-Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts and MP Nadine Dorries, did flout a rule on material which may cause offence being justified by the context.
Ofcom said that it had "serious concerns about Kiki's appearance in the programme". It added: "We considered the editorial premise of this challenge would have been potentially offensive to viewers: in effect a seven-year-old child was being offered as a prize in a competition."
In the Door To Door challenge, Brooks, who plays Janine in the BBC1 soap, and darts ace Eric Bristow had to choose from a selection of doors that had treats behind them. The actress did not know that Kiki, who had not seen her mother for 18 days, was behind one of the doors.
When she discovered that she had missed out on seeing her child after picking the wrong door, viewers saw Brooks, who later criticised the stunt and said it had been "heartbreaking", become visibly upset.
Ofcom said that the programme did not include any details of the steps ITV had taken to ensure Kiki's welfare. As a result, viewers would have "been likely to have been concerned that a seven-year-old child had been placed in a potentially highly upsetting scenario for the purposes of entertainment", it said.
ITV said that Kiki's grandmother gave consent for her to take part in the stunt and that the seven-year-old was "understandably disappointed, but in no way unduly distressed" after the challenge. But Ofcom stated that "viewers had no knowledge that Kiki was being supported and cared for by her grandmother and (she) had become very familiar with the details of the production of I'm A Celebrity...through her daily attendance at the production location".
Ofcom warned broadcasters: "When determining whether and how to include children in programming, we remind all broadcasters of the need to be mindful of the sensitivities of viewers."