Embarrassing Bodies: Sick and Wrong

April 15, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

EMBARRASSING BODIES, Wednesday 15th April, Channel 4, 8.00PM Alert Me

If you are feeling the pinch of the recession and can’t afford expensive incontinence surgery, have no fear, Embarrassing Bodies will give you a pot to p*ss in! Or, well, a tube/ pump/ button in the scrotum-type device thingy, at the very least. It still shocks me that people will sign up to showcase their shingles on this programme. Or how it has even been commissioned for a second series. Even if Peter’s weak-sphincter surgery gets paid for, when he walks down the street people will forever remember him as “the man with the leaky arse”. Nobody, and I mean nobody, wants that reputation to precede them.

Tonight’s freakshow features a wide variety of problems covering all levels of the shame scale. There’s wonky-boobed Rebecca, tooth-decay-tastic Tracey, not to mention Brigitte and the mystery of the gigantic genitalia. Interspersed between (graphic) footage of the more nasty health issues, reserved for the horrific “clinic”, there are shots of the EB bus as it pulls into a particularly afflicted UK city. This week the focus is on Birmingham; after delving into the plight of our loose-cheeked hero , Leaky Pete, Embarrasing Bodie begins the Campaign for the Tighter Pelvic Floor Muscle – with three ladies trying road-testing three internal tightening devices.

Of course, there is always the filler material featuring the usual array of warts, lumps and bumps. I was particularly horrified by the plight of poor Kadiga and her slug-like neck growths or “keloids”. The poor girl is forced to wear turtlenecks all year round because to remove the keloids would more than likely result in excessive scarring. It really does make you appreciate your own body, regardless of silly scars or the odd hairy mole.

Despite the intense anger that Dr Christian Jessen’s permanent smugness causes me, I do have to give these Doc’s credit. Not only does Dr Pixie McKenna have the best name ever, she also goes through the stress of an HIV test whilst the cameras are rolling. I know the cynics among you might scoff and insist that she tests herself off air first, but either way, it’s still an incredibly heart-wrenching experience.

Yet, at the end of the day, I still feel the gross-out factor outweighs the intelligent content. The “extreme example” photos and surgery footage is enough to put anyone off eating for the foreseeable future and, maybe I’m being too traditional and/or prudish but I think that any health issue should be kept between doctor and patient – that is the whole point of confidentiality after all. Shows like this expose too much, with little creative purpose.

If Embarrassing Bodies was replaced by a sharp and witty well-written show, I’d definitely feel much happier and healthier.


Sally McIlhone