Brit TV Show Embarrassing Bodies Brings Out the Voyeur in Aussies

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By Vittorio Hernandez | November 15, 2012 10:36 AM EST

The popular British TV programme, Embarrassing Bodies, is rating high in Australia. Experts explain the rise in popularity of the medical show to Australian audiences to various reasons, ranging from the need to know more about ailments to voyeurism.

The show rates the highest in Melbourne, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. For the programme's Nov 7 edition, Embarrassing Bodies had 974,000 viewers across five capital markets in Australia. The viewers often belong to the age brackets 25 to 54, 18 to 49 and 16 to 39.

The show had 587,000 viewers in mid-October which slightly dipped to 485,000 a fortnight ago. Almost half of them or 230,000 were in Melbourne.

Formerly titled Embarrassing Illnesses, the show was produced by Maverick Television and aired since 2007 over Channel 4 in Britain. Its success led to different spin-offs such as Embarrassing Fat Bodies and Embarrassing Teenage Bodies.

The following clips from YouTube show the wide variety of topics tackled on the show such as vaginal discharges, pointy nipples and penis sizes.

Professor George Ikkos, president of the Royal Society of Medicine's psychiatry section, explained the popularity of medical-based drama series such as ER and Casualty to the shows tackling the ailments of ordinary people which viewers can relate.

"Well-informed programmes can be helpful but people engage at different levels, from the highbrow to the lowbrow, depending on how people relate to what they are watching," BBC quoted Mr Ikkos.

While he concedes that some fly-on-the-wall medical shows may be voyeurism masked as a documentary or educational programme, he said the show nevertheless still provides some helpful information.

One such message is that people should not be afraid of going to the doctor. People who are initially shy to discuss their embarrassing conditions first send their queries through Skype chats.

The show's hosts, Christian Jessen, Pixie McKenna, Dawn Harper and James Russell, explain the science and fact behind each medical condition in a very educational tone.

One possible reason why people who are shy to tell their doctors their medical condition are willing to expose their situation on global television is that Embarrassing Bodies allegedly pays for the surgical treatment of the patient, The Sydney Morning Herald opined.

A study commissioned by Universal Playback found that almost one in 10 poor Britons turn to medical show to diagnose their sickness, while 58 per cent go online first before they consult a physician.

The study found the females are more likely to self-diagnose than males and young people would rather go online to seek an answer to their medical woes.

"It's really worrying that so many Brits are self-medicating an illness rather than consulting with a GP or seeking the advice of a qualified high street health professional. With nearly half of people wrongly self-diagnosing an illness, this can lead to a great deal of unnecessary additional stress," quoted Healthy Magazine editor Jane Druker.

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