X-Rated Television

By Kirwan Gray 05/19/11

New British show features live footage of people tripping on Ecstasy.

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Photo via dailymail

Rarely reluctant to indulge in a little bad taste, a leading British TV network is about to unveil a new reality show, featuring volunteers taking ecstasy (M.D.M.A.) in a clinical environment, surrounded by doctors and nurses.  After they were hit with  a barrage of criticism, honchos at Britain's Channel 4 claimed the show, which is part of the network's Drugs Live series, was a testament to the their willingness to take “real risks” in today’s world. As Jay Hunt, Channel 4’s Chief Creative Officer, put it: “The Government’s drugs czar Professor (David) Nutt was sacked for claiming that L.S.D. and ecstasy were less harmful than alcohol. In an incredibly bold experiment we are going to be putting that to the test live, looking at the impact that all of those substances have on the human body.”

The idea is so bad that both drug reform activists and anti-drug campaigners have rushed to condemn it. Considering the “significant ethical, legal and safety issues that would need to be addressed, the value of such a program is questionable," says the chief executive of Drugscope, a  nonprofit drug education group, with typical British understatement. As it happens, this isn’t the first time the U.K.'s TV stations have been up to such shenanigans. Back in 1955, reports the U.K. Guardian, “a Labour MP named Christopher Mayhew took mescaline and allowed himself to be filmed for a Panorama special.” A tripping U.K. Parliamentarian—that must have been a fun sight to see! Unfortunately, nobody saw it. Pressured by the British government, the BBC decided to shelve the broadcast for 30 years. When the episode finally came out last year, it was more of a media curiosity than a serious documentary. We suspect the same fate might befall Drugs Live.

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