'It's education, honest...'

There are five simple rules to follow if you want to show naked people having sex on telly. Vincent Graff and Lucy Rouse report

Sex, a television executive explains, "ticks all the correct boxes - it gets high ratings, appeals to young audiences and is popular with upmarket viewers." You may not be entirely surprised to learn of TV's love affair with the subject. And, just like the beginnings of real-life love affairs, after each date the television company wants to go one step further next time.

Sex, a television executive explains, "ticks all the correct boxes - it gets high ratings, appeals to young audiences and is popular with upmarket viewers." You may not be entirely surprised to learn of TV's love affair with the subject. And, just like the beginnings of real-life love affairs, after each date the television company wants to go one step further next time.

Which is why you may also not be entirely taken aback to learn about the latest makeover programme doing the rounds. Channel 4 has given the go-ahead to a pilot of a proposed series called The Sex Inspectors, in which couples who are not happy with their love lives will be filmed having sex - and then offered a tip or two about how to pep things up.

It is easy to see why Channel 4 is intrigued. Last week, you will recall, the network broadcast Pornography: The Musical, in which porn actresses described in detail what they do on film (and then warbled their way through songs about it), and Teen Big Brother: The Experiment, in which two contestants finally - finally! - did what everyone has been waiting for since the programme began in Britain three years ago.

Daisy Goodwin is editorial director of Talkback Thames, which is making The Sex Inspectors for C4. She says: "Everybody thinks that other people are having better sex than they are - it is one of the world's great myths." Her programme is designed "partly to reassure them that they are not, and also to show people how to make things a little better." If everything goes to plan, her show ought to make things a little better for C4's bottom line, too.

But there can be serious pitfalls if television companies get it wrong. Chris Shaw is the senior programme controller at Channel 5, which appears these days to have a far more grown-up attitude to sex than C4. He has a word of warning: "Getting the tone right on programmes with a sexual content is extremely tough. Any overtly cynical ploy can backfire and make you look extremely tacky and sleazy."

So, how can you avoid charges of sleaze and pass off rumpy-pumpy as good, honest programming? The Independent is proud to present the five defences you can hide behind.

* "It is avant-garde." When sex is arty, it isn't dirty. "It takes the edge off sex," says one programme-maker. "That was the thinking behind Pornography: The Musical."

* "It is funny." If you are witty about sex, how can it be pornographic? When did a picture spread in Hustler magazine contain any jokes?

* "It's educational." We have to show these people shagging; otherwise, how will anyone at home know how to do it?

* "It's a social experiment." Why do you think the latest series of C4's reality show was Teen Big Brother: The Experiment? That was not smut; it was science. Never before have we been able to prove that teenagers locked up together with nothing but time on their hands will end up having sex.

* "It's journalism." This isn't a programme about sex; it's an important piece of narrative about a secretive religious sect whose members happen to get naked once an hour and express their love for God in the form of an orgasm.

If none of those does the trick, you are working in the wrong industry. Try something a little less dishonest, such as ticket-touting.

Goodwin seems clear that her programme falls under category three. But even if a show is educational, there are limits to what you can show. "There's going to be a lot of pixelation in this show," she says, adding that it has to attract a female audience in order to be worth doing. "If we can't get the tone right, we won't do it."

Of course, there is never any hypocrisy at play when television tackles sex. Nor are there any double standards when serious newspapers run 700-word articles on the subject. Anyway, who is the biggest hypocrite here? What are you doing reading this?

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Analytics Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading organisation...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Insight Analyst Vacancy - Leading Marketing Agency

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency have won a fe...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices