Generation Sex (hannel 4, starts Mon 26 Jun, 7.55pm.
Birds do it, bees do it, educated fleas do it at an alarming rate and now it seems we're all doing it younger and younger. Channel 4's major new campaigning season arrives on our screens amid a worrying set of statistics.
Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe (Scotland’s figure has doubled during the last decade) with children as young as twelve becoming parents. There are also some 50,000 teen abortions annually. With this in mind, Generation Sex couldn't be more timely.
As well as the ‘fun' stuff like a showing of kids and a look at the dirty bits from Hollyoaks, there are the serious documentaries. Teenage Sex Lives sets out to explore teen attitudes to sex, contraception and pregnancy, going behind the scenes at Britain's Brook Advisory Centres. Among the assembly of angry, unhappy, frustrated youths are Charlene (sixteen and desperate for a baby) and Claire (fourteen and with a history of unprotected sex). The programme also looks at Brook's investigation into innovative means of sex education.
In the one-off Baby Mothers, we meet sixteen-year-old pregnant Marie whose dream man is ’someone with a record; nothing too serious, into niclcing cars but not GBH'. We later witness her distressing ten-hour labour as well as the events leading up to another teenager's abortion.
These documentaries highlight the social problems experienced by these teens. Boredom, ignorance, poverty, lack of parental love, low self-esteem and little respect for others are recurring factors in their lives. Scenes of childbirth and abortion are raw, graphic and upsetting yet, inevitably, they also feel intrusive and voyeuristic.
\ U "‘5 A. / ‘s. “ *vr
Not so much a horror film as moving requiem
Teenage sex is an issue for everyone
The question has to be begged: who is this series for? Does it have a didactic purpose or is it for the cosy, liberal Channel 4 audience to throw up their hands in horror and exclaim: 'there but for the grace of God . . . ’ before settling down to Friends?
Channel 4's commissioning editor for education, Richard McKerrow, outlines what he believes to be the season's intentions. ‘lt's aimed at the general public, adolescents, parents, educators and as many others as possible. A lot of the programme support supplied by us includes a booklet on safe and consensual sex. We hope to help youngsters in that aspiration and to help reduce the staggering number of teen pregnancies in the UK, through its portrayal of real life.’
McKerrow also feels that sex education in Britain's schools is not of sufficient quality, honesty and frankness. 'Schools remain intimidated because of the myth that sex education increases sexual activity. In fact the opposite is more likely. You only have to look at Holland and Denmark to see this. More education equals far less teen pregnancies.’ (Allan Radcliffe)
Drsturbrng though the shots of babres ill coffrns may be, they are urrclerrrably beautrlul
Nerther rs Wisconsin Death 111;) wrthout rts gallows humour When one of the town's rrrlrabrtarrts rs found to have been prematurely bur'red, the narrator (Ian Holnr vorc mg The Badge/"s edrtor‘r pornts out that the cemetery commrttee elected to make swrlt rrnprovernerrts to therr funeral servrces.
Marsh locates the comnrunrty wrthrn the larger raprclly clrangrng 19th century Amerrca prohrbrtron, votes for women, rndustr‘ralrsatron and mass unemployment llre changes rrngrng rn the new century seem
context of a
Wisconsin Death Trip BBCZ, Sun 2 Jul, 10pm.
In the last decade of the prevrous century, the rural conrrnurrrty of Black Rrver lalls, Wrsconsrn, was plagued by drsease, rnsanrty, surcrde and rrrurder lrorn rrrass Infant rnortalrty to arson and hauntrngs, the extraordrnarrly grrrn hrstory of tlrrs corrrrrrunrty reads lrke the bar kstory to The Blair W/tch Project
108 THE LIST 22 Jun b erl 2000
Insprred by Mrc hael lesy's hook of the same name, James Marsh's Arena documentary uses two sources the arc hrves of local ncwvspaper The Badger State Banner, and the strrkrrrg rrrrages ol the town's portrart photographer errng thrs prctorral hrstory Wlllr atmospheric black and wlrrte reconstructrons and an eerie soundtrack, Marsh has created not so nruch a horror lrlm as rnovrrrg regurem
responsrble for happenrngs, yet Marsh opts to leave thrs conrrec tron rmplrc rt
Instead, he lets deathly dorngs whrch contrnue to bedevrl Black Rrver l4alls rl'd (Jern drd hrs serral krllrng here) rernarn unexplarned lrke the srrnrlarly unresolved 8/a/r W/tch phenomenon, you'll lrnd tle gothrc document erther frustratrng or fasc rnatrng (Mrles Fielder)
We put TV celebs on the couch. This issue: Lenny Henry Born 1958 rn Dudley, West Midlands.
Big break Lenny was drscovered dorng stand-up on Martr Carne's talent show, New Faces In the late 70s he became a regular contrrbutor on anarchrc Saturday mornrng chrldren’s TV show, T/swas, alongsrcle Chrrs Tarrant and Sprt The Dog Wrder recognrtron came rn the early 80s when he starred rn the cornecly sketch show, Three OLA Kind, wrth Tracey Ullman and Davch Copperlreld The other Davrd Copperfreld, Finest hour Henry has had a crUCral rnlluence on a generatron of black Brrtrsh comedrans. The hugely successful Lenny Henry Show was perhaps the prnnac le of hrs comedy career and Introduced a varrety of well- loved character creatrons rncludrng Brrxton's lavourrte wrdeboy, Delbert erkrns and the one man 'sex machrne' Theophrlus P erdebeest So when did he stop being funny? 1991 was a landmark year for hrm He made hrs Hollywood debut rn the atroc rous Drsrrey lrlm True Identity, and hrs serrous drama debut rn the BBC's hard-hrttrng A/rve And Kicking, rn whrc h he played a ruthless drug dealer. In 1993, Chef! provrclecl Henry wrth an opportunrty to cornbrne hrs comrc. talents wrth strarght actrng What now? Going all the way rnto serrous drama, Henry rs set to return to our screens rn a new serres of Hope 8/ Glory, rn whrc h he plays head teacher lan George of 'named and shamed' secondary school Hope Park Little known fact In 1991, Lenny was the frrst Brrtrsh cornrc to make a lrve stand-up comedy lrlm called Live And Unleashed, In the tradrtron of Amerrcan comedrans such as Steve l\.’lartrn, l‘ddre Murphy and Robrn erlrarrrs Not to be mistaken for Lenny Bruce, 'lhrerry Henry, Lenny Berge 1(atherrneBromleyr
Hope A} G/ory, 88C], starts Tue 2/ inn, 9 30pm.