I’m A Celeb 2021: Arlene Phillips’ OCD comments spark Ofcom complaints

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I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! has already found itself the subject of Ofcom complaints, with the majority in response to Dame Arlene Phillips labelling herself ‘completely OCD’ on Sunday night.

This year’s series has already started to get quite dramatic after Naughty Boy threatened to quit the show on Monday night.

But something else has left those watching at home unhappy as Ofcom received complaints about comments from Arlene Phillips made during the first episode of the series.

The former Strictly Come Dancing judge, 78, who is the oldest contestant to ever be on the show, made a remark about OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) on her way to camp.

During her car journey to Gwrych Castle, she told viewers what she was worried about in preparation for her stint.

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She said: ‘I cannot live with dirt. I am completely OCD about everything in my life being organised, clean, neat and tidy.’

Arlene Phillips

Arlene made the comment on her way into the jungle (Picture: ITV)

In response, a number of viewers took to social media to express surprise the remarks were left in by ITV.

Now, Ofcom has confirmed the majority of the 89 complaints they’ve received so far (59) were about Arlene Phillips’ description of herself as OCD.

The broadcasting watchdog revealed a further 13 of the complaints from Sunday’s episode related to animal welfare.

Many felt the former Strictly Come Dancing judge’s comment trivialised what it was like to live with OCD and played down the severity of the mental health condition.

arlene phillips on i'm a celeb

Arlene is the oldest-ever competitor on the show (Picture: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock)

Charity OCD Action has since reminded broadcasters how important it is that the condition is portrayed accurately on screen.

A spokesperson from OCD Action told Metro.co.uk on Tuesday: ‘OCD is a serious and often debilitating condition which can cause huge distress.

‘It is important that OCD is portrayed accurately on television as we know that stereotypes can prevent people from seeking the treatment they need.  

‘OCD can get better with the right treatment and support, and we would encourage anybody who is struggling to consider speaking to their GP.’

Fans of the show commented their disbelief at the remarks on social media, and called for the broadcaster to ‘do better.’

One viewer wrote: ‘OCD is not an adjective and not a ‘quirk’… please can @ITV take this on board? Let’s all work together to raise more awareness that OCD is a serious mental health condition and not a term to describe how clean you are.. #ImACeleb.’

Another said: ‘No, Arlene, you are not “OCD” about cleaning. OCD is a terrifying, life-changing illness and we need people to stop throwing the term around #ImACeleb.’

‘How many times, OCD isn’t a cute little quirk about liking things tidy. It’s a debilitating mental health disorder. Do better itv, you didn’t have to show Arlene saying that #ImACeleb,’ echoed another.

ITV declined to comment when contacted by Metro.co.uk.

I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here continues tonight at 9pm on ITV.

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What is Ofcom and what does it cover?

Ofcom is the regulator for the communications services that we use and rely on each day.

The watchdog makes sure people get the best from their broadband, home phone and mobile services, as well as keeping an eye on TV and radio.

Ofcom deals with most content on television, radio and video-on-demand services, including the BBC. However, if your complaint is about something you saw or heard in a BBC programme, you may need to complain to the BBC first.

Its rules for television and radio programmes are set out in the Broadcasting Code.

The rules in the Broadcasting Code also apply to the BBC iPlayer.

This Broadcasting Code is the rule book that broadcasters have to follow and it covers a number of areas, including; protecting the under-18s, protecting audiences from harmful and/or offensive material and ensuring that news, in whatever form, is reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.

Audiences can complain to Ofcom if they believe a breach of the Broadcasting Code has been made.

Every time Ofcom receives a complaint from a viewer or listener, they assess it to see if it needs further investigation.

If Ofcom decide to investigate, they will include the case in a list of new investigations, published in the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin.

An investigation is a formal process which can take some time depending on the complexity of the issues involved.

Ofcom can also launch investigations in the absence of a complaint from a viewer or listener.

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