Last night I had a most unnerving experience. Channel 4 news, at seven o’clock in the evening is in my opinion the best news programme on television by a very long way. Channel 4 is, after all, a public broadcast service; it does show advertisements, but they are mercifully short.
Yesterday, immediately after the news, at eight o’clock, I watched a programme called Embarrassing Bodies. I have seen it advertised but never watched it. Last night I did watch it, because my wife told me there was a piece about alcohol consumption in adults. I had been told off by my GP yesterday morning because I drink too much…
The programme was set in a studio with a roving lorry-based surgery – in Manchester yesterday – presided over by a short-skirted doctor with the unlikely name of ‘Pixie’ and an engaging persona; ‘Hi guys’, she said, as she was introduced by the duo in the studio, at least one of which was, I think, also a doctor.
The item that caused me to do a triple take was a middle-aged lady in the Manchester lorry complaining that she had a ‘fat fanny’. Did I hear right? Was she an American? (Americans call backsides ‘fannys’). Er no, she was English, and she proceeded to lift her skirt, and show said offending article, full-front, on prime-time evening television… This was followed by a gentleman with a foreskin problem which Pixie probed with gloved hands. Now I was sweating... Then there was a 31-year-old lady who complained that her breasts kept growing. Yes, they were put on show (via a poor Skype connection), and yes they were large… But then someone came on and said, ‘…my problem is that my breath smells like faeces…’ I had to leave the room.
I should add, that in case anyone should suggest that this was the very worst kind of voyeurism dressed up as a ‘serious’ medical programme, there was also an adolescent boy who sweated too much, and another middle-aged lady with discoloured legs and feet.
Did the journalists responsible for this farrago of bad taste all migrate to Channel 4 from the News of the World? Have the programme-makers of Channel 4, a so-called serious public broadcast channel, entirely taken leave of their senses? Or is this the way television is going, with members of the general public apparently ready to humiliate themselves, full-frontally, just to get two minutes of fame on prime-time television? I am seriously considering emailing Jon Snow on Channel 4 News to see whether he approves of this ordure (in both senses of the word) adjacent to his excellent news programme.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs