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November 3, 2004
And I Thought American TV Was Bad

The Guardian reports that British television broadcaster Channel 4 has become so desperate for material that they have created a new "reality" TV show -- watching a human body decompose (via Drudge):

Channel 4, no stranger to challenging broadcasting taboos, is about to cross another televisual rubicon by filming the decomposition of a human body.

The broadcaster, which billed the show as a "unique scientific experiment", has in the past featured controversial documentaries showing the first images of aborted foetuses seen on British TV and, two years ago, Britain's first public autopsy for 170 years. ...

The plan is to film the body decomposing, which could take several months, in London's Science Museum, though not in an area open to the public.

So they plan to keep the decomposition outside of public view, but then broadcast the film of it across the British Isles? Laughably, the broadcaster defended the programming decision by claiming that the publicity stunt would yield important scientific results, even though decomposition studies take place in the US and their data is, presumably, available for peer review:

"We hope experts can learn more about the processes involved and that the data collected by the project can help forensic pathologists in murder investigations," said Simon Andreae, Channel 4's head of science and education.

Dr Richard Shepherd, a senior forensic pathologist and president of the British Association in Forensic Medicine who will lead a team of scientists, said: "This project represents an urgently required step forward for forensic medical research in this country."

Watching one body rot under one set of controlled circumstances will assist scientists and forensic investigators only when they happen to find a dead, rotting body inside a museum after several weeks. Pretending that this weird bit of performance art has any scientific value just provides a thin veneer of respectability to Channel 4's pandering to the morbid tastes of their public.

What other value the experiment has as entertainment is questionable at best. It does give us another simile for tedium, replacing the more mundane "watching paint dry" -- as in, viewing Channel 4 programming is like watching a body rot.

It should surprise no one that this same broadcaster owns the television rights to Fahrenheit 9/11.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 3, 2004 9:21 PM

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