TV watchdog Ofcom has been called on to investigate ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!’ after the reality TV show used the 7-year-old daughter of one of the contestants as a prize in a challenge.
Former Eastenders actress Charlie Brooks and darts legend Eric Bristow were taking part in one of the show’s challenges to win luxuries - including clean clothes, food and various members of the contestants’ families - by selecting one of five doors to open.
The two contestants failed to win their challenge however, choosing the wrong door and being met with a sign that said ‘Game Over.’ Ms Brooks’ 7-year-old daughter, who hadn’t seen her mother for 18 days, could hear her voice and was visibly upset when she realised she would not see her.
Ms Brooks only realised that she had had the chance to be reunited with her daughter after learning that fellow contestants had successfully negotiated the challenge and had picked the correct door, thus being able to see their family members.
In a tearful apology to the cameras, Ms Brooks said: ‘It felt like someone had taken a boot and kicked me in the guts.
‘I didn’t even think having a family member behind the door would have been an option. This is heartbreaking.’
Millions of viewers took to social networking sites and internet forums to express their views on the stunt, with some claiming that ITV should ‘hang their heads in shame’ whilst others expressed concern over the impact the disappointment would have on such a young child.
However, some criticised the actress for what they perceived as bad parenting, questioning her decision not to leave the jungle to console her daughter on learning what had happened.
An spokesman for ITV said that the girl had been allowed to take part in the show by her grandmother, adding: “A senior producer saw Kiki afterwards and she was fine. Kiki and her grandma come to the jungle every day with the other friends and family, so the experience wasn’t as out of the ordinary as it might look.”
This latest controversy comes just days after producers were criticised for their treatment of Brian Conley, who has suffered from depression and battled alcoholism, and were accused of failing to look after the 51-year-old comedian, who left the jungle and was admitted to hospital after becoming distressed.