Staying in: The body in all its glory

In `Lido', Lucy Blakstad made a magical documentary about a swimming pool. Now, in `Naked', she's getting more personal

Maureen is 50, yet she admits that she finds "everything to do with age abhorrent". Consequently, she has had more cosmetic surgery than your average resident of Sunset Boulevard: full-face laser skin treatment, a face lift, alterations to her upper and lower eyelids, upper-lip augmentation, breast "uplift" and liposuction. But she's still not satisfied. "There's something else," she sighs. "A grey pubic hair - that is one of the most sobering sights. You think, `Oh no, nobody told me about that'."

Maureen is just one of the contributors who lays themselves bare for Naked, Lucy Blakstad's intriguing new BBC2 documentary series. Over four parts, the filmmaker puts our attitudes to our own bodies under the microscope, from the hormonal explosion of puberty through to the dying light in old age. The idea has a winning simplicity to it. "It's one of those things you can't believe hasn't been done before," says the producer/director. "We've all got a body. Even if you couldn't give two hoots about your own body, you're at least going to be aware of its ageing process. It's that moment where you look in the mirror and suddenly think, `My God, I'm turning into my dad'."

The tenor of the programmes could easily have strayed into women's magazine territory, but that has never been an area where Blakstad has felt comfortable. "Initially, commissioning editors were worried that it might be daytime- TV subject matter, but you steer away from issues like weight problems and how to look more beautiful. You also realise that everyone has a different take on the subject - it's not about a woman wanting to lose 10 pounds. It's a way to find out about people's lives. The body signifies where people are in life. People's self-esteem is directly affected by the way their body looks. If I interviewed you, say, I'd start off talking about balding, but I'd end up finding out quite a lot about how you feel about yourself. It is more interesting to focus on the head rather than the body. It's about how the mind copes with changing flesh."

She reckons, for instance, that our fear of ageing is merely a code for fear of death. "For the people in the programme about middle age, wrinkles signify the downhill, slippery slope; they're thinking, `I'm over half way there'. Also, people are worried they'll become less attractive as they grow older. They're constantly being reminded in the mirror that there's less time left."

Blakstad's other aim with the series was simply to put some normal-looking bodies on our screens. "One thing that struck me was how unusual it is to see ordinary bodies on television. If a TV drama has overweight actors, they never take their kit off or have a romantic scene. It's the same in women's magazines. You just don't see it - except in your own mirror. I recently met a nice-looking actor in his 20s whose agent had told him, `Find a hairpiece because you won't be able to get parts if you're balding'. What are things coming to?" Hear, hear.

This is all very well, but isn't there a danger that the programme - particularly with such a title - will attract a pervy element? "When people watch it, they'll realise it's not a peep-show," Blakstad replies. "I could have chosen to film the interviewees topless or in the rugby-club showers, but hopefully it's not too voyeuristic."

It isn't, but it is arty. In one sequence, a 54-year-old divorcee is undergoing a mid-life crisis. As she reflects on meeting her ex-husband at a dance, she is filmed sitting in the centre of a floor while ballroom dancers float around her in slow motion. Does Blakstad, who trained at art school and made her name with such unashamedly stylised documentaries as Lido, Weekenders, Flatmates and Hong Kong, feel threatened in a TV universe where the docu-soap is king? "No, I'm delighted there are so many docusoaps because it makes it easier to stand out. I should be worried about my style of film-making dying out, but the feedback I'm getting is that at the BBC there'll always be a place for people with different ways of doing things."

Part of Blakstad's individualistic approach lies in her intense curiosity about people. For all their artiness, her films have a very human touch. "I'm the kind of person you move away from on trains because I just start talking to people," she laughs. "I'm genuinely interested in people - I even interview them at parties. Since I was little, I've always asked, `Why'."

So what has the 33-year-old Blakstad learnt from making Naked? "I hope I'll feel accepting about the ageing process. I'm certainly going to do my damnedest not to feel hysterical about it. If I started getting depressed about every wrinkle, I'd be miserable for 50 years. It's great not to be hung about the things you were hung up about when you were young. In one of the programmes, an old man says that ageing is `like driving a really fast car. Then later on you get a little slow car and you think, `Well, I'm not going as fast as I used to, but the scenery's a lot better'. It's about appreciating and accepting how you are. I've always been very tall. Since making this programme, I've bought two pairs of high heels and thought to myself, `I'm tall. To hell with it - I might as well enjoy it'."

But does Blakstad imagine she'll always be this sanguine about her body? "Ask me in 10 years' time when I'm rushing off to have a face lift."

`Naked' starts on BBC2 at 9.50pm on Wednesday

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee