Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Far from Embarrassed

Just spotted this new comment on the Embarrassing Bodies website:

Hi team

Just a little note 2 say a very big thank u very much! I was watchin an episode that featured how 2 check 4 lumps in the breast. I am a 33yr old single parent & thought i didnt need 2 check myself until i was in my 40’s but im very pleased i did, approximately 16 weeks ago i saw ur show & went 2 my gp because i found a lump, at first the locum was quite dismissive until he felt it then he refered me 2 the breast specialist at my local hospital. I went 4 tests & got diagnosed with breast cancer, i just had a wide local excision & am currently waitin 4 the results from that op but i am optamistic a small amount of radiotherapy is all that will be required to complete my treatment.

Watchin ur show has saved my life & thanks 2 u all my 2yr old son will still have a mummy :)

Keep up the good work!!!

The Breast Self-Check video in question is here

How to check your breasts

Update 14/09/09:

A new viewer comment:

“I was watching Embarrassing Bodies around the above date and your Doctors were showing viewers how to check for breast cancer. I took note and examined myself. I found a lump and went to my GP. Now 5 weeks later I feel fully recovered now after a lumpectomy to remove a cancerous tumour. Because I found it in very early stages, it hadn’t spread to my lymph nodes and my outlook is fabulous. Treatment now involves 3 weeks of radiotherapy and tablets for 5 years. Thank you for your clear way of showing people like me how to potentially save our own lives!”

Digital Britain: grit in the oyster

pearlWith the publication of the Digital Britain report today it’s an apposite time to reflect on the role of Channel 4 in Britain’s Public Service landscape. After listening to former BBC Chairman Christopher Bland asserting (this morning on Today) that the UK can only afford one public service broadcaster and after reading a spiky response from BBC Trust Chairman Sir Michael Lyons jealously guarding the BBC’s cash, I reflect on last night’s RTS Education awards. I went along with The Sex Education Show presenter Anna Richardson and the Sexperience team from Mint Digital and Cheetah. During the evening I caught up with Tanya Byron who was presenting the awards and served on the Digital Britain steering group (I worked on the DB Being Digital / digital media literacy work group, whose outputs Tanya polished. I also helped her a little with her government Review of Children and New Technology last year and have been busy trying to get it implemented this year via the UKCCIS). At the end of the ceremony she spoke of how she had been inspired by watching all the nominations with her family and picked out Sexperience,  Chosen and Troubled Minds for special mention.

Just playing the numbers game, the BBC with its pots of cash for education scored 2 awards. Littl’ ol’ Channel 4 bagged 5. And some 5…

For Educational Impact in Primetime  Chosen (True Vision for More4) – three courageous men disclose the abuse they suffered at school. Turned down by 17 commissioning editors before More 4 had the balls. Talking of Balls, one of the three protagonists, Tom, drafted a set of recommendations taken up almost in their entirety by Secretary of State for Education Ed Balls when he reviewed this area in the wake of this film. The jury said: “A revelatory and dignified film… which explored paedophilia by allowing three highly articulate middle-aged men to tell their own stories of having been groomed and serially abused by teachers in the same public school as they were growing up.”

For the 11-16 Years category KNTV Sex produced by Tern Television (whose trusty leader Harry Bell – he knows a good Rioja when he sees one – I caught up with in the bar afterwards) – a lively, funny animation (punctuated with weird archive from Eastern Europe) tackling tackle and other forbidden subjects. The jury said: “A witty and uncompromising look at a subject of great relevance to its target audience. It uses first-class entertainment devices and characters to deliver tough content. An engaging and fun watch with real take-home for the viewer.”

For Campaigns Jamie’s Ministry of Food (Fresh One for Channel 4) – love him or loathe him, you have to admire Jamie’s commitment. I was lucky enough to work on Jamie’s School Dinners which in many ways set the gold standard for mainstream Public Service TV. The jury said: “The winning series was utterly brilliant – it truly enriched the lives of the people involved and gave the viewer a rare insight into other people’s lives.”

For Factual Education 7/7: The Angels of Edgware Road (Testimony Films for Channel 4) – driven by one committed film-maker, a story of people who risked their lives to save others. The jury said: “not only a deeply moving account of the appalling events on the London Underground in 2005 but challenged its audience to consider their own responses if faced with the dilemma of whether to save themselves, or try to save others.”

For Educational Impact in Primetime (Series) Can’t Read Can’t Write (RDF Media for Channel 4) – teacher extraordinaire Phil Beadle (who I worked with on The Unteachables) again teaches the ‘unteachable’, this time adults who have never grasped reading and writing and had given up. Now two of the featured contributors have written books! The jury said: “powerful storytelling and memorable sequences within this important series which highlighted the shockingly high numbers of British adults who cannot read or write. The jury was genuinely surprised by the extraordinarily brave characters whose stories were at the heart of the series, finding them engaging, surprising and honest.” Compare that one for example to BBC RAW for flair, passion and imagination.

Sexperience lost out for Innovation in Education to the BBC’s School Report which marshals the whole BBC machine – BBC News, Radio 4’s Today, the network of local radio stations, the Full Monty/Aunty – to encourage children to try out news journalism. Laudable and solid. But an exact replica of Channel 4’s Breaking the News for a different audience (Newsround age as opposed to 14-19) which won an Education RTS in 2005, a year before School Report was launched. Yes, a strange choice given Raw’s Battlefront was the other nominee.

All of this illustrates how Channel 4 is the grit in the PSB oyster. The BBC would be even Blander (scuse the pun) without the boundary pushing of C4 and its discovery and nurturing of talent. On BBC Jamie cooks and makes a dish, on C4 he campaigns around food and makes a difference. (He was discovered of course by an ex-C4 PA who followed her passion straight out of Charlotte Street to become a highly successful exec producer, Pat Llewellyn.) Digital Britain has highlighted and backed C4’s place in British media and started rolling an exciting updated remit:

Championing and promoting creativity and new talent across all digital
media, by:
●● Investing in a wide range of original, innovative, high-quality audiovisual
content, including film, which provides alternative perspectives
and reflects the cultural diversity of the UK.
●● Providing audio-visual services and programming that can stimulate
learning and which will inform, challenge and inspire people, particularly
older children and younger audiences.
●● Maintaining a strong commitment to distinctive national and
international news and current affairs.
●● Enabling through partnership the development and reach of other public
service content from British cultural organisations.
●● Developing new services and applications to support its overall role,
embracing the potential of all digital media to connect with audiences
in new ways and to encourage the wider take-up of and participation in
new digital media by audiences.

The Embarrassing Bodies effect

As I was walking past the University of London’s Bloomsbury Theatre the other day (on my way through strike-bound London to the pick-up point for the Tech Bus to b.Tween 09 in Liverpool) I noticed a poster advertising a stand-up gig in October by “television’s heartthrob medic” Dr Christian Jessen of Embarrassing Bodies talking to the student-centric audience about health matters. The same day I came across this piece a good few miles from the big smoke, typifying the impact of Embarrassing Bodies and indicating why the NHS should plug into its success:

Dr Christian Jessen of Embarrassing Bodies

Health fayre aims to target the young

Jun 10 2009 by Lynda Nicol, East Kilbride News

THE popular television programme Embarrassing Bodies has proved young folk are just as interested in their own health as older generations.

Being able to look after yourself – and seek prompt medical advice on problems, no matter how bashful you may feel about it – is something people should learn when they are young.

With this in mind, Greenhills and East Kilbride South Youth Club are joining forces with NHS Lanarkshire to stage a health fayre at the club tomorrow (Thursday).

There will be a range of stalls offering health checks and advice on a variety of health issues.

Young people from throughout the area are invited to go along between 7pm and 10pm and they will be able to talk frankly about any health comcerns they may have.

Club leader Councillor Archie Buchanan said: “I am very pleased to be working with NHS Lanarkshire in providing health-related advice to the young people who attend our youth club.”

And he added: “The health fayre will, I am sure, be well received by the young people attending.”

The question is, of course, how can Greenhills and East Kilbride South Youth Club and NHS Lanarkshire make best use of the kind of engagement a heartthrob medic like Dr Christian inspires? (Using the interactive content on the Embarrassing Bodies website – especially the Embarrassing Teenage Bodies part with its Am I Normal? videos – is not a bad place to start.)

Cameron Diaz praises The Sex Education Show

There's something about Cameron

There's something about Cameron

Just been sent a cutting from Cosmo syndicated to The Daily Mail (which august journal features occasionally in these pages) in which Cameron ‘unconventional hair gel’ Diaz praised the very same The Sex Education Show that the Mail (though not the Mail’s online readers) was swift to condemn in standard knee-jerk (with an emphasis on jerk) fashion.

“Diaz also praised Channel 4’s The Sex Education Show, which was found last month by regulator Ofcom not to have breached broadcasting rules.

The pre-watershed programme is primarily aimed at young people, covering topics such as pornography, erectile dysfunction and contraception.

Diaz said: ‘I was in England recently and I caught this programme… The whole lot was on TV. It was amazing. And I was, like, that’s what we need to do.”

Update 11.vi.09: story made it into the soaraway Sun too, under the headline Amazing. And the Independent.

Slive: Surgery Live on Twitter

Surgery Live trending on Tweetdeck

Surgery Live trending on Tweetdeck

To round off the week of The Operation: Surgery Live with regard to its integration with Twitter here are a selection of tweets from the week. Trending 3rd, 2nd and 1st over the week reflects what seems to have been a successful experiment.

warrenfree: Enjoyed watching Channel4 adoption of twitter to allow us to question the surgeons.. Interesting to watch too #slive

OotSandShaman my question was just asked on @surgerylive! man twitter kicks ass

wisebuddha liking use of twitter integration in a linear tv show good example from C4 in UK more of this in future http://bit.ly/hevJ2 #slive

Sarahgrittin09 #slive good to see social networking sites used for more interesting things like this rather than poncy photos and relationship statuses!

Vialli25 #slive the first TV programme I’ve ever watched where they actually ask you to include this hashtag when talking about the show on Twitter!

liammoody Looking forward to Surgery Live at 11 tonight. Have just got the Twitterfall app to follow #slive discussion! It’s a rare gem from Ch4

vas_876 @ajd90 Hey, looks like #slive has brought loads of us prospective medics to twitter

mygadgetlife: #slive really C4 a great program made all the more enjoyable with twitter but poor scheduling  [many viewers were upset that the live broadcast had to end after its allotted hour]

InnerLambada: Surgery live is absolutely addicting. I just couldn’t stop watching. Although I couldn’t help but think “What if it goes wrong?” #slive

thumbfight: #3wordsduringsex (1 thumb down) VS. #slive (2 thumbs up)

anthayes: .@krishgm awe inspiring but can you be on for longer tomorrow though? #slive

beth_richards: #slive is genius

ellied18: Shame #slive isn’t on for longer… great insight!

MrCheapCalls: #slive Well, that wizzed by… not long enough!!

machotrouts: #slive This isn’t interactive enough, when do we get to vote on what bits to take out? Does the red button control any equipment?

simonday09: #slive I hope you all enjoyed live brain surgery as much as I did, simply amazing. well done channel4!

wren154: #slive Forget Susan Boyle and all the other wannabes. This programme is showing where Britain’s Got Talent

marcmcg @SurgeryLive please turn SurgeryLive into a weekly series. Most innovative and educational show I’ve seen on TV in a long time.

tweelhouse @krishgm Watching Mondays #slive – totally fascinating. Have a heart condition and helping me better understand what goes on inside me!

#slive wow this is extraordinary, just tuned in for the first time! Not for the faint hearted, but may be I could be a doctor

Bruce elrick #slive @krishgm another classic -quick work from tonights surgeon. Did you guys get started earlier? This would be great to show in schools

sotonrich watching day 3 of the amazing surgery live all week has been amazing. there should be more of this on tv #slive

Rachael90210 #slive This is one of the best things on TV! Love. It.

Unfortunately, I can’t watch #slive since I’m in the US :-( Sounds like just the kind of show I’d actually love to watch!

Chrissarnowski #slive Thank you Surgery Live; great eyeopener, makes me more determined to pursue my ambitions in medicine…

LyndaHull @surgerylive Am loving the shows. Totally mesmerising TV. Congratulations!

Ajnokia slive Great idea, always wondered what happens during surgery. Because once your under the blanket you have no idea.

Gregp94 #slive is brilliant

Lucy_locket_91 #slive: Will there be another series??? This has been my highlight of the week!

Martincollett #slive another excellent programme, shame the series has to end, looking forward to more soon!

TEDavis #slive = brilliant, loved every second of it!

Ummmdonuts #slive noooooooooooooooooooooo don’t end! more surgery! pleaaaaaaaaaaaaaaassssssseeeeeeeeeee!

J_Dizzle_: just watched heart surgery live on channel 4, twitter questions and updates.. very well done. #slive

mjmobbs: #slive excellent, see you tomorrow, really enjoyed the Twitter and Live TV combination.

philroberts: #slive this could be one of the best models for twitter, live interactive feedback brilliant twitter was a great enhancement to the show

manpreet1: Surgery live on channel 4, and #slive, was a great use of a new format.

Surgery Live trending on Twitscoop

Surgery Live trending on Twitscoop

Update 1.vi.09:

An article from Broadcast today. And one from the NHS.

Twitter experiment with live TV

Next up from these quarters is a microblogging/Twitter experiment with live TV. From Monday at 10.25pm on Channel 4 you’ll be able to watch surgery – live. Open heart surgery, awake brain surgery (i.e. patient awake as well as surgeon and us the trusty viewers), keyhole surgery, tumour removal – alive&direct thanks to Windfall Films in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust. Wild enough in itself I hear you say but that is not all, oh no, that is not all…

We will not hold up the cup and the milk and the cake and the fish on a rake, but as the Cat in the Hat said, we know some new tricks and your mother will not mind (unless she’s etherised upon a table, as that other cat-lover said). The plan is to tip our hat (red and white striped topper or whatever) to that increasingly common behaviour of Twittering whilst watching TV and encourage people to tweet away during the live operations, sharing their thoughts and asking questions. The big difference here is that this is live TV and you can make an impact with your tweet on the TV editorial. The best questions tweeted will be fed through to the presenter, arch-Twitterer Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Channel 4 News, who will swiftly pose them to the surgeon at work. So a matter of seconds between tweet and the question being uttered on live TV.

There have been some pioneering experiments in this area by the likes of The Bad Movie Club (established by Graham Linehan, writer of Channel 4’s Father Ted and The IT Crowd, spotted recently on stage at the TV BAFTAS) and Channel 4 News but I think this may be some kind of first in the telly realm. Now of course there are echoes of phone-ins and combining TV with forums/chatrooms the best part of a decade ago (by Danny Baker on Channel 4) but what this new generation of social media brings is a networked conversation which is global, searchable, tagable and open.

I think it is important to consider carefully what kind of broadcast material to combine microblogging with. I personally tend to indulge in the practice while watching undemanding TV like Jonathan Ross on Friday night. Bad Movie Club has the right idea – the clue is in the word Bad, stuff you may well have watched before and is crap in a good way. There was a little unofficial attempt at it at the BBC but it was allied to radio, and egg-heady radio at that – the broadcast material was too complex and demanded too much attention to allow for multitasking. What I’m expecting with Surgery Live is that once you get into the flow of the programme you don’t need to give it your undivided attention to be able to follow the action. I, of course, will be watching over the rim of my specs to take the edge off it all, being of a squeamish disposition and never cut out to be the doctor my parents wanted me to be. I’m a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Cutlers, the City livery company associated with the crafting of swords and surgical instruments, which is ironic given my phobia of all sharp edges (other than the cutting edge of interactive media ;-)  ).

Surgery Live is the second of three Twitter experiments on my radar. The first was Osama Loves which used Twitter, early last summer, to enable our two intrepid adventurers in search of 500 Osamas in 50 days right across the Islamic world to update sharers in their journey from areas where they couldn’t get online or didn’t have sufficient bandwidth and were forced to rely on mobile. The third is the forthcoming Alone in the Wild (watch this space).

I’ll report back here on whatever interesting comes of it but in the meantime, please do join us for The Operation: Surgery Live on Channel 4 on Monday at 10.25pm (then Tuesday through Friday at 10.30/11.00, varies) to watch an illuminating show and discuss it there & then.

Adult Learners’ Week 09

Adult Learners' Week

AdultLearnersWeekFolk, here are the website addresses for the projects demoed:

Big Art Mob www.bigartmob.com Public Art

Landshare www.landshare.net Landsharing and growing food

Picture This www.channel4.com/picturethis Digital photography

Empire’s Children www.channel4.com/empire Family history

Embarrassing Bodies www.channel4.com/bodies Health

Medicine Chest www.medicinechest.info Traditional approaches to health

Adoption Experience www.channel4.com/adopt Adoption

Porn to be Wild update

Sexperience making good Google impact – on Day 1 of new series ranking #1 of 532,000,000 on searching “sex education” (where it has resided since the last series in Sept 08) and #2 of 731,000,000 on searching “sex”!

In search of Sex Education

In search of Sex Education

Searching for Sex

Searching for Sex

Update 7.iv.09:

Nice piece in Broadcast about this today

Porn to be Wild

Anna Richardson vs Porn

Anna Richardson vs Porn

With headlines like “Porn Scandal Minister Faces Axe” in the press yesterday (they have a Minister for everything these days), what a great day to launch the next phase of Sexperience which accompanies the new series of The Sex Education Show: The Sex Education Show vs Porn.

The Sun ran a double page centrespread as only the Sun can – an outraged “Pornification of Our Kids” headline, bridling at the impact of porn on teens, laid over the torso of a stunna in black lace bra and panties, head cropped off not that any objectification was going on.

The site, updated for the new series, got off to a cracking start with

  • 414,000 pageviews in the first 3 hours!
  • 60,000 visits in those 3 hours
  • over 1,000 questions submitted by users in the same period

The Sex Education Show continues this evening at 9pm on Channel 4.

Pornification

Pornification

Fragile

Natasha Richardson and her mother Vanessa Redgrave
Natasha Richardson and her mother Vanessa Redgrave

Delicate beauty

Watching the Six Nations rugby this weekend (the Ireland victory sporting theatre at its best) I couldn’t help seeing the incidents when players’ heads hit the ground (that happened in both the England and Ireland matches, with stretchers sent into action) in a new light, with a frisson emanating from our fragility. Our fragility as spotlighted by the genuinely sad news of Natasha Richardson’s accident and her rapid decline over just half a week.

I only encountered Natasha once, at a recent party of the old friend of mine who I met my wife through. The party was appropriately theatrical, with the historical venue done out like Mandalay (complete with Mrs Danvers), and Natasha appeared in a glittery outfit fitting the surroundings and her star quality. She looked fabulous.

Her poor husband Liam Neeson I’ve also only met once. It was in sad circumstances too. It was at the memorial for another old friend, actor John Keegan, at the Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn. I was introduced to Liam by Adie Dunbar. We had a ridiculous conversation about Dundalk and I found myself talking about the Four Lanterns take-away when what I actually wanted to say was “Liam, I think you did a cracking job with Oskar Schindler.” (It was the reverse of an encounter I had with Ralph Fiennes in the bar at the Almeida where I had the opportunity to say “Ralph/Rafe/whatever you call yourself, I think you did a cracking job with Amon Goeth” – and did.)

What can you take from a tragedy like this? To enjoy each and every day. To cherish the simple pleasures. To be conscious of everything you have, every privilege and happiness.

Watching the first episode of the new series of The Secret Millionaire last night, featuring ex-Rover boss Kevin Morley, you couldn’t help but detect that Kevin’s journey into the dark heart of Hackney has brought him back in touch with what really matters – he came to recognise the true value of his home and family, clearly regretting that his children’s growing up had passed him by while he was in the office. The one thing that seemed to escape him was that things like his collection of sports cars, which he showed off at the beginning of the programme with reference to shiny little models in a cabinet, come at a cost – beyond the readies he shelled out. Someone, somewhere pays for it ultimately. It could be a homeless person in Hackney. Or a starving family in southern Africa. Someone, somewhere always pays.

As Liam Neeson wakes his beloved wife and comforts their children none of the Hollywood glitz adds up to much. As my Irish mother-in-law always says (not a million miles from Liam’s home town of Ballymena): your health’s your wealth. Gandhi, much though I admire him, was more long-winded than Mrs Murphy: “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”

This morning I was involved in launching the government’s new White Paper on informal adult learning (doing a case study around Picture This and illustrating how Channel 4 brings motivation, purpose and inspiration to networked media), so with both learning and fragility in mind another Gandhi quote rounds things off: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Update 30.iii.09:

Bumped into Adie Dunbar at The Pigalle Club watching an intimate performance by Sinead O’Connor. Adie hails from Enniskillen, not a milion miles from Ballymena, and knows fellow thesps Liam and Natasha well. He underlined the great tragedy here by describing the powerful, positive energy the pair of them radiated together. In the words of the great Matt Johnson: “Love is Stronger than Death.”

In our lives we hunger for those we cannot touch.
All the thoughts unuttered and all the feelings unexpressed
Play upon our hearts like the mist upon our breath.
But, awoken by grief, our spirits speak
How could you believe that the life within the seed
That grew arms that reached
And a heart that beat
And lips that smiled
And eyes that cried
Could ever die?

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