Why did Boy George go to prison? I’m A Celebrity… faces backlash over star’s conviction

The singer Boy George stands side-on wearing a hat with a green light shining on him

Boy George went to prison in 2009 – something he’s been grilled on in I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here.

The singer’s past convictions finally came up in conversation in the ITV jungle on Wednesday (16 November), when Scarlette Douglas asked him: “What happened with you.. and some guy in handcuffs and a radiator?”

Boy George, real name George Alan O’Dowd, was annoyed by the grilling and denied parts of the story that led to his prison sentence.

ITV has been forced to defend its casting of the Culture Club singer, who has a spent conviction for assault and false imprisonment.

Many viewers have complained about the platform being given to Boy George, despite his past, with his victim among those to speak out.

Why did Boy George go to prison? 

In 2009, Boy George was sentenced to 15 months in prison for attacking Norwegian model Audun Carlsen. 

He was convicted of assault and false imprisonment after being found guilty of handcuffing Carlsen to a radiator and beating him with a metal chain.

At the time of the conviction, Carlsen told the jury he was only able to get free after breaking the fixture, while Boy George attempted to defend his actions by citing that he was high on cocaine and having a psychotic episode. 

The singer pleaded not guilty, but was convicted.

Boy George was sentenced to 15 months in prison, but he was released with an ankle monitor after four months for good behaviour.

I always maintained that jail would finish me off.

In an interview with Reader’s Digest, Boy George reflected on his time in prison and described it as “life-changing”.  

He said: “I always maintained that jail would finish me off, but it didn’t. You somehow find the strength.

“I feel I came out of that situation with some wisdom and knowledge. I really don’t view that period in my life as negative… but I wouldn’t want to go back.”

In a 2017 interview with Piers Morgan on Life Stories, Boy George said he regretted the incident and blamed it on his drug addiction. 

“I sent myself to prison. I told police why I did what I did. I was having a psychotic episode.

“I was a drug addict so I can’t say my reasons for doing it were founded in any way. But I told the truth. I have always denied beating the guy.”

Boy George has since remained sober. 

Boy George’s victim speaks out 

Recently his victim, Carlsen, spoke about the “hurtful” decision made by ITV to platform Boy George, who he refers to as a “monster”. 

Carlsen described how, in 2007, he had been handcuffed to a radiator, beaten with a metal chain and threatened with a sex toy by the singer.

Audun told the Mirror: “Had I been a woman and he did what he did, he would never have been given the platform. It’s hurtful that big organisations like ITV give him that platform.

“I think giving him this sort of platform and a record fee sends the wrong message to survivors of violence and abuse and is plain wrong.”

As a result of the abuse Audun, now 43, has been diagnosed with PTSD, left with a “permanent back injury”, and has spent a decade in therapy. 

ITV has defended casting Boy George despite his conviction and prison sentence.

“This is a historic, spent conviction dating back 12 years and Boy George has appeared on major TV networks globally on numerous occasions over the last decade, including as a coach for The Voice UK on the BBC and The Voice Australia,” the broadcaster said.

Boy George’s representatives have said: “George went to jail for four months willingly after openly confessing to false imprisonment during a psychotic break 15 years ago whilst in the midst of a well documented drug problem.”

Boy George’s jungle journey

Since being in the jungle, Boy George has challenged the show’s second controversial contestant, Matt Hancock, over his role as health secretary during the Covid-19 pandemic.

I don’t want to be sitting here like I’m having fun with him,” the singer said, as he told his campmates about his mum’s experience with coronavirus.

But he was criticised by some viewers for tackling Hancock’s past while his own history remained undiscussed.

He was also criticised for his response to Charlene White, who he called “controlling” while making dinner for the camp.

“She just issues orders, for me as an observer of my own feelings, it’s mind-blowing,” he said.

Before the show started, it was reported that his fee for the show was the biggest in ITV’s history.