Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Embarrassing Bodies: Kids

Here’s an article from this week’s Broadcast. Embarrassing Bodies: Kids starts tonight at 9pm on Channel 4.

Embarrassing Bodies extends site to tackle children’s health

29 April, 2010 | By Robin Parker

Live & kicking

Channel 4 has unveiled yet another brand extension for the Embarrassing Bodies franchise: a website devoted to children’s health.

The site, to be hosted at channel4.com/kids, will feature exclusive videos and applications featuring the doctors from the main show and the four-part Embarrassing Bodies: Kids, which begins this week.

Producer Maverick has worked with Dr Dawn Harper to create the Development Milestones application, which enables parents to plot their child’s development and receive detailed advice on what to do if this process shows up
any abnormalities.

Parents will receive reminders as children hit further milestones and when they require immunisations and health checks.

A Kids Lifestyle Checker application analyses a child’s lifestyle and calculates risk levels for 13 key conditions, and offers personalised advice on making positive changes.

Dr Christian Jessen is fronting a series of videos billed as Should We Be Worried?, in which he explains the symptoms and remedies for more than 80 of the most common childhood illnesses.

The site will span health issues affecting children of all ages – from babies and toddlers to older kids – and will be integrated with government-funded health advice site NHS Choices.

C4 cross-platform commissioner Adam Gee said the site was launched to address the lack of high-quality video on the web tackling children’s health issues, with older kids particularly under-served.

Embarrassing Bodies’ established website, at channel4.com/ bodies, has been used by 6 million people to date and has attracted more than 6.5 million video views.

It is now in the running for a Bafta TV Craft award, opposite The Apprentice’s Predictor game, which was developed by Monterosa with Talkack Thames and the BBC; Objective Productions’ and Illumina Digital’s C4 education
project Science of Scams; and Who Killed Summer?, a web teen drama produced by Bigballs Films, MWorks and Hideous Productions.

The children’s website will go live next week, and on 14 May the established live web show Embarrassing Bodies Live will focus on children’s health.

Last month, Maverick unveiled a 4 x 60-minute extension to the brand, Embarrassing Fat Bodies, and won an 18-part recommission of the main show. Last year, it produced a special edition centred on old people.

[This article is reproduced courtesy of Broadcast.]

EBK in NMA

An article from New Media Age on Embarrassing Bodies: Kids which launches today at www.channel4.com/kids

Embarrassing Bodies: Kids

Embarrassing Bodies: Kids

Channel 4 and Maverick build site to help parents keep kids healthy

Jessica Davies

Channel 4 has launched a site Embarrassing Bodies: Kids to boost engagement with parents concerned about their children’s health.

The site at channel4.com/kids goes live today to coincide with the show’s broadcast. It features exclusive video and social applications providing more space for parents to share advice and experiences.

The broadcaster and production company Maverick TV hope to build up a community around the site, in turn boosting audience dwell time.

The first Embarrassing Bodies site, which won a BAFTA for interactivity, attracted 6m users and 6.5m video views, plus a further 9m via Channel 4’s official YouTube channels.

Adam Gee, cross-platform commissioner at Channel 4, said, “The original site was never really intended to build up a community per se, as people generally used it to follow up a specific issue and would then be directed to the best online or offline support group.

“The Kids site aims to increase engagement and time spent on it, as parents will be able to discuss a common interest: their children.”

The site has a Development Milestones application so parents can plot their child’s development over time and receive reminders when immunisations and check-ups are due.

The broadcaster has also opened up a range of advertising opportunities for the site, including creative sponsorships.

Channel 4 will host a special episode of Embarrassing Bodies Live on 14 May focusing on kids’ health, airing exclusively online at channel4.com/bodieslive.

[This article is reproduced courtesy of New Media Age.]

Sparking the imagination

Here are some extracts from an article on Creation Interactive which illustrates how Embarrassing Bodies is getting the healthcare industry to rethink how it communicates with patients and the public…

TV & Online: What can TV’s Embarrassing Bodies teach the healthcare industry?

With an outstanding level of online engagement during and after each programme, Embarrassing Bodies shows a strong correlation between relevant and challenging content and behaviour change.

A serious medical condition can make for uncomfortable discussions between friends and family.  But what if you suffer from an embarrassing illness, one you can’t share with your aunt, your workmates or you may even be too ashamed to speak to a medical professional about it?

In the UK, a television show has sparked the imagination of TV and internet viewers by getting people to talk about, share and understand medical and body conditions that some people might think are obscure, freakish or disgusting.

With over 4 million TV viewers and an outstanding level of online engagement during and after each programme, Embarrassing Bodies illustrates that:

  • Consumers are interested in everyday health, sickness and wellbeing
  • Engaging content can make difficult health subjects accessible through everyday language
  • People are willing to talk about personal and embarrasing health issues online
  • Access to senior physicians provides a platform for stimulating response
  • There is a strong correlation between relevant and challenging content and behaviour change

Embarrassing bodies TV series

Embarrassing Bodies was commissioned by Channel 4 as part of their public service remit to explore difficult personal medical issues. Since 2007 the factual entertainment series and website, produced by Maverick Television, has delivered on-screen diagnosis by the team’s professional medical presenters who explain complex medical conditions in an engaging way. They follow patients through their decisions and operations, showing life-changing stories as sufferers are relieved of burdens from illness they have lived with sometimes for many years.  Participants trust the show’s talented experts, who include Doctors Christian Jessen, Pixie McKenna and Dawn Harper who have become role models for General Practitioners.

The heart-rendering Charlotte’s Story told the journey of a child who’s ugly verrucas were diagnosed as a symptom of a life-threatening bone marrow condition. The broadcast had an incredible response: The Antony Nolan Trust saw a 5,000% rise in requests for information on Bone Marrow Transplant the day after transmission.

Embarrasing BodiesTV content from Charlotte’s Story includes close-up detail of surgery

The power of the web experience

The secret to the show’s success is its engaging web and interactive experience.  The website generated the highest ever web and mobile viewing figures for a Channel 4 show, garnering 1.2 million page views within 24 hours of a May 2008 broadcast. The show regularly attracts 150,000 viewers who engage during or after each episode.

Viewers respond to a powerful call-to-action from the TV broadcast to visit the website where they can explore the issues raised.  An Autism-Spectrum Test was accessed 38,000 times in less than a minute.

The show encourages viewers to take further action to safeguard their health by performing checks on their skin, breast and testicles, providing web resources for self-diagnosis.  The website regularly receives comments from those who have been motivated to act, like a woman who discovered a lump in her breast:

“Because I found it in very early stages, it hadn’t spread and my outlook is fabulous. Thank you for your clear way of showing people like me how to potentially save our own lives!”

The show has a presence in selected networks: through the TV broadcast, the website, and a Facebook group (which has 147,000 fans) which feeds key stories and links from the show’s main website.  The #embarrasingbodies hashtag is used by thousands of Twitter viewers during the show, although the show has no official Twitter presence.



Channel 4’s Cross Platform Commissioner Adam Gee believes the key to the series’ success is in combining talent and honesty in an entertaining and engaging form.

“If you want to talk about lactose intolerance, get their attention by talking about farting as a way into it.  Health information doesn’t need to be po-faced. It’s a good engaging route into ‘meat and two veg’ healthcare issues. The show’s very open, non-judgemental tone and human language creates a huge sense of reassurance that people aren’t alone, and also a sense of hope.”

Embarrasing Bodies

Embarrassing Bodies uses straight-talking everyday language to engage people about their health

Embarrassing Teenage Bodies targeting difficult-to-reach teenagers, generated a flood of 11,000 website comments showing confidence and changed attitudes. During the evening of the broadcast, 99,000 people took an online STI risk checker – engagement you would be unlikely to ever find in a sex education lesson at school.  This show generated many mobile downloads, suggesting that teenagers are more likely to access this type of content in private on mobile devices than on computers.

The website allows for anonymous interactions: users do not have to pre-register to submit their photos or questions or to comment, however, the team have launched a new strand with real identities, Embarrassing Bodies: Kids for worried parents that have a common interest in the welfare of the children.  Channel 4 have used the programme as a model for supporting the preventative public health agenda and experimenting with online interactivity.  They are currently developing a buddying system for people who suffer from the same chronic illness to support one another and share first hand experiences.

Embarrassing Bodies Live

This year the broadcaster took TV-to-web interactivity to the next level with Embarrassing Bodies Live – a web-only show directly after the TV broadcast. 42,000 viewers logged on to the site to pose questions to the team’s medical presenters. The live show aimed to do things that linear TV or a radio phone-in could not: responding directly to viewers questions and rewarding interaction through shaping the editorial.  Viewers submitted photos and questions anonymously then anyone could vote on those they wanted to be discussed, directly affecting the editorial in real time.  It took the conversations that were already happening on Twitter and spring-boarded them into a wider conversation.  #embarrassingbodies was the biggest trending topic on Twitter in the UK that night.

Developing Communities

Embarrassing Bodies has developed a sizeable community of interest, but it’s a transient rather than sticky community.  Adam Gee explains:

“You have to think carefully about what you’re doing with a community and not do the default thing to say let’s make a social network because they’re all the rage.  What kind of social network would be build around embarrassing illnesses except one of hypochondriacs? People don’t come with a common interest to a site like this: it’s a lot of small, temporary communities.  They arrive in a just-in-time, task-oriented way, looking for the condition they are worried about. They then hang out in the community just long enough to find which is the best support group or other help to plug into.

“The series has always connected to profession bodies, encouraging viewers to visit their General Practitioners and linking to the UK’s National Health Service Choices website. The destination sites are a stark contrast from the rich, engaging Embarrassing Bodies space. Suddenly, you’re in this white, stripped environment.  They are two poles of public service health – we need to recognise that it is one continuum: on one end are health professionals, on the other are communication professionals.  We spend all day finding ways to entertain and engage people, and they spend all day thinking about what is the correct medical procedure.”

Lessons for the healthcare industry

The website benefits exponentially from its springboard from a popular TV brand which regularly attracts up to four million television viewers. The challenge for the healthcare industry is to create its own springboards based on highly engaging content.

Embarrassing Bodies shows that rich media and interactivity can lead to deeper levels of engagement and changes in behaviour. Jonnie Turpie believes:

“Now that broadband accessibility and video steaming on the web is accessible to wider audiences there are increasing opportunities to make engaging interactive content and services. This enables digital media producers to deliver valuable health engagement, rather than simply health information, which may lead to greater prevention of illness.”



To make the most of digital engagement opportunities, television and online video should create a call-to-action to move audiences online and provide more in-depth information and medical solutions.  Embarrassing Bodies shows that promoting illness, no matter how difficult to discuss, in an approachable and human way and providing value for the user to progress their understanding, can capture attention and imagination, forming a first step in creating patient engagement.

[These extracts are reproduced courtesy of Creation Interactive. You can read the full article written by Susi O'Neill here.]

Tragic

Something truly tragic about this defining image. But when what you say diverges from what you think you’re asking for trouble. The most charged moment of this election. Beside the issue of political duplicity, the dramatic fall spotlighted contempt for the voter, poor judgment of relations with the public and bad communication, topped off with desperate lying to get out of it. Tragic for this man and casting a shadow over all our politicians.

C4’s surreal Twitter experiments

Here’s a piece on integrating Twitter with TV courtesy of C21 Media, written by Jonathan Webdale:

SOCIAL MEDIA 2010: Channel 4 new media commissioner Adam Gee says Twitter saved the life of one of the channel’s documentary makers and is responsible for resocialising TV. Jonathan Webdale reports.

As a UK public service broadcaster, Channel 4 has a remit to innovate and over in its factual department that’s exactly what new media commissioner Adam Gee (left) has been doing with Twitter.

Gee, or @SurrealThing as he’s known to his followers (more on this later), cites four projects, each of which illustrates a different use of the micro-blogging service. The first came in July 2008 with Osama Loves, a multi-platform travelogue that sent two people off around the world to find 500 people named Osama in 50 days in a bid to counter Muslim stereotypes.

The journey included visits to places with limited internet and mobile network access, so the stripped down simplicity of Twitter 140-character updates offered a means for the protagonists to keep the narrative going.

“We knew we would have bandwidth issues when they were in the middle of Nigeria or some corner of Indonesia and we needed a different way of communicating, so we used Twitter to tell the story,” says Gee.

Similarly, Alone in the Wild, a series that last year followed documentary maker Ed Wardle’s attempts to survive in solitude when abandoned in the Yukon, also employed Twitter as part of its narrative.

While Wardle wasn’t allowed two-way communication with the outside world, he was permitted to tweet just once a day, partly as a way of adding further perspective to his experience, but also to allow the production team to keep tabs on his progress.

Wardle was trying to last three months in the wilderness but failed to find reliable sources of food and his physical and mental health deteriorated to the point where he had to be rescued after seven weeks.

In one of his Twitter posts he said he was losing weight so quickly that his muscles were disappearing. Another mentioned that his heart was at 32 beats per minute, when 60-100 is considered healthy.

“I can’t definitively prove it but it saved his life because when he started struggling psychologically it first became evident in his daily tweets,” says Gee.

Two other C4 shows drew on Twitter to shape their editorial direction in real-time. A year ago, Surgery Live was a series of four one-hour live operations that ran stripped across the week at 23.00. Viewers were able supply questions to the surgeon via Twitter while he was carrying out procedures such as removing a pituitary tumour or opening a heart.

“I’m pretty sure that this was the first time a UK broadcaster deliberately used Twitter and integrated it into a cross-platform project,” says Gee. It’s probably pretty safe to say as well that few broadcasters other than C4 would have chosen such as initiative to pop their Twitter cherry.

“The system was such that you could tweet a question and that question could get from your mobile or laptop to air in 90 seconds. We had to have a slight delay on the live feed in case something serious went wrong, but it was an absolute thrill to have such a direct impact on the programme.”

Gee himself tweeted in some questions from home on a couple of nights using his then anonymous handle. “Those were before the days when you had your actual name on the Twitter account,” he says. “The reason that my Twitter identity is SurrealThing is because when I first saw it about three years ago I thought it looked like the end of civilisation as we know it.”

But Gee decided that he needed to get to grips with Twitter if he was ever going to be able to commission anything that made use of it. “So I was a Surrealist for the first year, tweeting about melting watches and stuff like that. I couldn’t get what it was for. But over time what emerged was a tool waiting for a mission.”

Through the three experiments listed above he feels he’s now pretty clear about what that mission is, as far as broadcasters are concerned.

The fourth project he notes, Embarrassing Bodies: Live, took Surgery Live a step further, transforming what had been a two-screen experience for viewers into one. Ironically, however, it used a “Twitter-like” interface that ran on C4’s own website, rather than actually integrated filtered messages from the public Twitter feed.

“We didn’t want an un-moderated stream of stuff being published to the site and in that particular instance it was actually easier to build the functionality and integrate it into our moderation system than to use Twitter separately,” says Gee, though he doesn’t rule out direct tie-ups in the future.

Live broadcasts are definitely where he sees Twitter having its greatest applications but he notes that it’s not relevant to all programmes. “You’ve got to be careful what you build your Twitter cross-platform activity around because if it’s over-complex or requires too much concentration it’s not ideal. You actually want something you don’t have to concentrate on too hard,” he says, giving awards shows as a classic example.

As a general observation, Gee believes that C4’s Twitter experiments have helped crystallise exactly what the micro-blogging service’s mission is from a broadcaster’s perspective. “It’s resocialising TV,” he says. “Once, you might have chatted the next day over a shared big TV experience, but with the much more fragmented TV world we have now it replaces that – which I think is it’s greatest strength. That’s where the value for the channel is.”

Jonathan Webdale
27 Apr 2010
© C21 Media 2010

Please note: C21 Media provides free daily email bulletins and their site is a mix of free and paid for content. This article is reproduced courtesy of C21 Media – click here to register (top right) for their free daily email

Embarrassing Bodies: Live was nominated yesterday for a BAFTA TV Craft Award for interactive creativity

Fundamental Flaw

children playing

The spirit of the law

The first words I heard this Easter Monday morning were Allah Akbar. They blared their way at 5am across the fields from Jisr az-Zarqa, across the stream from which it takes its name (bridge over the blue [stream]), along the Roman aquaduct which flowed right down to Caesarea, and through the flower-lined streets of Bet Chananya where I am staying. In my half-sleep I lay wondering: What did God actually ask? Presumably he never mentioned electronic amplification in the Koran. I suppose he said something along the lines of get up high and call the faithful to prayer. No speakers. No microphone in the Holy Book I’m guessing. Just the human voice. So why the need to broadcast beyond the call of the human voice?

I’m just back from the streets of Jerusalem, from the Via Dolorosa to the Wailing Wall. On Good Friday I saw the faithful carrying wooden crosses into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, site of Calvary. It coincided with Passover this year and of course shortly after the resonant hour of three o’clock the Jewish Sabbath kicks in. At the hotel where I was staying the electric revolving door was switched off for the Sabbath and you had to push it around manually. The reason the electricity was switched off is because switching on electricity has been interpreted as constituting work. Presumably electricity doesn’t get a specific mention in the Torah. But you end up with your shoulder to the heavy revolving door doing the bovine work of pushing your way into your temporary crib. So interpretation ends up achieving the opposite of the spirit of the law.

And anyway, what’s that Orthodox Jew doing carrying two bulging plastic bags across the lobby on Sabbath afternoon? He’s not even supposed to carry money in his pocket – that’s work too apparently. In North-West London near where I live, the Orthodox Jewish community tried to or actually built a network of thin, high wires around certain streets of NW11 to create an ‘eruv’ which seemingly constitutes some kind of enclosure which would permit Orthodox Jews to have money in their pocket or push a pram on the Sabbath within its near-invisible confines. Religions have this habit of finding ways and interpretations to get round their own rules.

Heading West to Holland Park you’ll find the sumptuous Arab Hall in newly restored and just reopened (yesterday) Leighton House, home of the prominent Victorian painter Frederic, Lord Leighton. He was a keen collector of Isnik and other Islamic tiles. On the walls of the Arab Hall, setting off its central fountain and latticed windows, are tiles depicting birds and natural beauty. But Muslims, like Jews (and technically Christians), are forbidden from creating “graven images”. It’s right up there as rule/Commandmant No. 2: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath”. So birds are a no-no. Look carefully at the tiles though and you’ll see a line has been scored across their necks in the glaze. Apparently that gets you off the hook with God.

So there’s the spirit of religion on the one hand, and the question of human interpretation and institution on the other hand; there’s the human voice and the cycle of work and rest, and there’s contemporary applications of religious rules and the predominance of the letter of the law or the interpretation thereof over the spirit of the law.

A few days ago – ironically on St Patrick’s Day – on Radio 5 I heard Steven Nolan interviewing a certain Monsignor Dooley, a senior representative of the Irish Catholic Church. He asked him whether he would report a priest to the police if he knew he was abusing  a child. His reply was that he had no legal duty to do so …nor, indeed, any moral duty.  This was from a close colleague of the churchman who was reading out that very day in Armagh Cathedral the Pope’s apology for the abusive and deviant behaviour of his Church in Ireland – the apology which ended up with a call on the (increasingly appalled)  Irish Catholic congregation to do a year’s peninence for the sins of… of whom … of  the representatives of the Pope’s rotten institution in their country.

In some religions to become a priest or community leader you have to be married, preferably with a family. The Catholic Church will remain rotten at heart as long as it enforces celebacy of its officials. Supressing sexuality and natural urges obviously just misshapes people, and wherever it finally bursts out of some resultant kink or deformation, like a hiss of burning sulphurous steam, it causes pain and stink. I’ve met angry Catholic priests. I’ve met obviously gay ones, who either don’t realise it or don’t want to be honest about it. I’ve met ones over the last couple of years whose faith has clearly been shaken by recent events. I’ve seen, I’ve smelt those whisps of suppressed and displaced feeling.

In Richard Price’s excellent novel ‘Clockers’ he describes in unforgettable fashion what his cop character calls “the Cycle of Shit” – basically how abusive behaviour and its consequent damage transmits from generation to generation in a vicious, downward spiral. Which begs the question, what in God’s name has been happening to those priests in the seminaries and institutions in which they’ve grown up and trained?

It turns out the voice that abused my ears this morning wasn’t even a real person. It was a tape recording. The officials of religion that feed these Cycles of Shit are steeped in the rankest of hypocrisy. Not that I’d have felt that much better if the lazy bastard had gotten out of bed to disturb me and make me this grumpy.

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