The Guardian, Monday September 15 2008
The other day I was enduring The Sex Education Show on Channel 4, in which a self-consciously "liberated" presenter called Anna ran screeching around the place like a one-woman hen night, banging on about boobs and willies in a bid to "get Britain talking" about sex. And the script essentially ran as follows:
"Hey, Britain! Let's all be honest and open, yeah? Penises! There! I said it! Some are big, some are small! Here's a photo of one! Are you shocked? You mustn't be shocked! Although it's OK to be amused! Tee hee! Aren't we pushing back the boundaries? Isn't this healthy? Come on, we're all adults. This is good for us! Celebrate it! Vulva! Wow! Can you believe I just said that? Condom! Orgasm! Clitoris! Etc!"
Don't get me wrong: I'm all for snickering nob gags and frank images of nudity, but I'd rather not have them accompanied by some tissue-thin justification about "healing the nation" or "getting people talking". Just tell us a joke, show us your bum and piss off.
Anyway, as luck would have it, Anna did show us her bum. Sort of. In a mirror. While she was trying on lingerie, because this was a modern documentary, see? Just as in London you're famously never more than 4ft from a rat, so in 21st-century factual entertainment shows the presenter is never more than four minutes from a pointless TV stunt. Like trying on some frilly pants. Or getting a bikini wax.
The bikini wax section caused me some anguish. After braving a "full Hollywood" (where they suddenly rip the whole lot clean away, like DLT having his face pulled off), Anna held a little chat with a studio audience, encouraging them to help heal broken Britain by loudly discussing their pubes. Things were ticking along predictably - ie a 50-50 mix of words and chortling - when something upsetting happened. They asked the men in the studio whether they trimmed their pubic hair, and almost every single one of them put their hands up.
Then they read out the results of a survey they'd done, which claimed that, yes, 60% of men trim their pubes. What, really? 60%? Huh? And then they asked the women in the studio if they preferred the male trimmed-pube look - and they all nodded like Churchill the car-insurance dog. First I felt woefully out-of-touch.
"I just don't think so - men will be waxing next?"