Last Night's TV: The good doctor laid it all on the table

Just don't expect me not to snigger, that's all. I know we're supposed to be grown-up about these things and that today's children are, notionally at least, growing up hideously ignorant about sexual health and that it's a thoroughly good thing that Dr Alice Roberts is giving us a brisk introduction to our reproductive organs to kick off her series Don't Die Young. But when she talked about "my user's guide to the male reproductive organ", I'm afraid I couldn't repress the unruly boy slouching on the back row who wanted Miss to explain precisely what she used it for. Was she going to offer star ratings? Handy tips for the novice handler? Small boy piped up again when she delivered one of her pieces to camera from the crotch of the Cerne Abbas giant and, I regret to say, when we were introduced to her male guinea pig, an events organiser called Mark Smallman. With a name such as that, Mr Smallman must have had a very wearying time in his teenage years, but he can now lay the past to rest. His testicles, we have it on sound medical authority, are an excellent size, and the sample of semen he had tested looked as busy as a municipal lido in the middle of a heatwave. As in the lido, there always seems to be one maniac, head down and doing a splashy sprint from corner to corner.

If you thought that set a benchmark for unabashed self-exposure, you'd reckoned without Dr Alice's commitment to unflustered instruction. Half-way through her programme on the female reproductive organs, she slid herself into an MRI scanner and took us on a tour of her generative plumbing. "There we go," she said proudly. "My vagina on national television, my mum would be proud." True, the organ in question was chastely blurred into monochrome by the scanner's screen, but I'm not sure many presenters would have pointed out their own rectum with such sangfroid, or so casually identified the plinth of buttock fat on which the whole assembly rested. Does my bum look big in this? Yes, but don't worry, even Kate Moss's would.

She's game, is Dr Alice. That's the point, really, along with the fact that she's nice to look at and can dissect a pig. Should the producers decide that a period is best diagrammed by getting her to roll in a giant hamster ball along a massive outline of the fallopian tubes, she'll do it without moaning. And she asks no awkward questions about the precise rationale for creating cuddly-toy versions of the bacteria and viruses responsible for sexually transmitted diseases, and asking passersby whether they can identify them. What's that about? Making chlamydia cute and turning syphilis into a cot toy? If people are to be persuaded to put a layer of latex between themselves and either organism surely they need to look as repulsive as possible?

Still, Dr Alice has a good bedside manner and the programmes do contain some fascinating information, even if you'd want some of it subjected to a peer-group review before taking it as gospel. A study of American lap-dancers, for example, revealed that their average take in tips at the peak fertility during their cycle was nearly double that during their period, which some have taken as evidence that women give off an invisible signal of their fecundity. Whether the experiment included controls to exclude variable rates of grumpiness wasn't revealed.

Five's Sex and the Neanderthals: Revealed explored the contentious theory that our closest human ancestor didn't die out as a result of prehistoric ethnic cleansing but may have been miscegenated into non-existence. "They were all dirty, they were all smelly, they were basically people and, hey, why not? Sex happens," said one of the scientists advancing the idea that Neanderthals had simply been absorbed. Given that men have been known to have sex with farm animals if nothing better is available, it didn't seem implausible that some Cro-Magnon type would have tried it on one dark night in a cave. On the other hand, since interracial dating can still cause friction and disapproval in some communities, it was hard to imagine that inter-species dating would have gone down well with primitive groups.

The truth is that no one knows for sure, nor is likely to any time soon, since all the evidence dates from some 40,000 years ago, and even the guys on CSI would have trouble working up a categorical lab result from that. Trying to sequence Neanderthal DNA from the confusion of genetic material found in an ancient bone, one expert explained, was like trying to reconstruct a shredded copy of War and Peace that had been mixed in with the fragments of 20 other shredded novels, and not having a clue what any of the books should look like. That the meat machines described by Dr Alice Roberts should have brought us from living in caves to the brink of being able to achieve such things suggests that sex must be worth all the trouble that comes with it.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
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.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam