[h1]Channel 4's latest idea: drug binge TV[/h1]
By Nicole Martin
Last Updated: 3:57am BST 20/08/2007
Channel 4 has caused controversy after inviting journalists to take drugs and alcohol for a documentary.
The publicly-owned station, which is at the centre of the scandal about premium rate competitions, has asked an independent production company to develop the programme after a report in March listed alcohol as more harmful than cannabis and ecstasy.
The company, Ricochet, has written to prospective participants inviting them to spend a month in Holland where they would take drugs and drink alcohol "with no legal repercussions".
"We are looking for journalists in their 20s or early 30s who are happy to admit to the occasional or more regular use of one of these substances and allow us to follow the effects that it has on their body over the period of a month," said Hannah Lamb, an assistant producer, in an email.
"They would take the journalists to Holland where there would be no legal repercussions and where they have a great university who will be monitoring the effects."
Drugs charities criticised the documentary, saying that Channel 4, which brought Designer Vaginas and the World's Biggest Penis to the screen, was simply trying to create another storm.
Danny Kushlick, the director of Transform, said he had been approached by Ricochet to discuss the documentary but had refused to get involved.
"It seemed liked craziness to me," he said. "I thought it sounded like they were trying to turn serious science into top TV. It didn't work for me at all.
"Firstly, it's very difficult to draw any conclusions by monitoring just a few people over a short period of time, and secondly it seemed that the documentary was about nothing other than watching people getting seriously off their face.
"It's really sad that broadcasters are not engaging with really interesting, compelling issues about drugs."
Harry Shapiro, the director of communications at DrugScope, said: "There is no shortage of first-hand accounts of the effects of drugs and alcohol on the mind and body, within the clinical literature, and also within popular culture; therefore it is hard to see what the purpose is of further depictions of the individual drug experience."
A Channel 4 spokesman said: "The show hasn't been commissioned yet. It's at the development stage and may never make it on to the screen."
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