Channel 4 courts controversy in broadcast of Class A drug use

A new television series is to broadcast volunteers taking Class A drugs live on air. The Channel 4 programme, called Drugs Live, will show participants taking drugs such as ecstasy under clinical conditions, so viewers are able to see how they affect the body.

The four-part series will "bring much needed clarity to a social issue often mired in controversy or confusion", said Jay Hunt, Channel 4's chief creative officer, adding that the series would bring "a sense of mischief" back to the broadcaster.

Ms Hunt noted the high-profile sacking of former government drugs adviser Professor David Nutt, who claimed that LSD and ecstasy were less harmful than alcohol.

She described the debate around illegal drugs use as an "incredibly important area of social policy" and said that Channel 4 aimed to put itself on "the front foot to provide some interesting and useful data". The broadcaster emphasised that the experiment will be tightly controlled. "Under strict medical supervision and in a controlled clinical environment, individuals will be filmed as they use different substances. Their physical and psychological effects will be monitored, as will their social interaction with others as the drugs enter their systems."

David Glover, commissioning editor for science at Channel 4, said: "This series will provide viewers with [open] access to a live drug trial... The aim is to bring new clarity to the facts of illegal drug use."

Some drug charities and addiction specialists questioned the value of the series. Dr Caroline Chatwin, a drugs policy expert at the University of Kent, said: "I don't think that programmes of this type will encourage people to take drugs. I think if people are interested in taking drugs, then they just take them. It's not as if drugs are a great unknown in our society today."

But she added: "My worry here would be that Channel 4 are not doing it out of a desire to inspire open debate or to help people be more educated about drugs or to present a more accurately scientific picture of the effects of drug use. Instead, I would be concerned that they are using it as a shock factor to increase their viewer ratings."

Marolin Watson, a campaigner for drugs awareness charity Hope UK said: "It is difficult to know what Channel 4 will achieve by this exercise apart from 'bringing a sense of mischief back to the broadcaster'.

"It would be sad indeed if that mischief extended to giving young people a false sense of security about using drugs, because a one-time experimental dose will not show the long-term consequences of Class A drug use or the negative impact of addiction on people's lives."

Others questioned the focus of the project. "Will itshow that the only reason that this programme is 'edgy' is because much of the media have demonised, marginalised, caricaturedand ridiculed users, dealers and producers, whilst at the same time making liberal use of illegal drugs? said Danny Kushlick of Transform. Or is this just Big Brother on acid?"

Legal highs on the rise

Forty-one new "legal highs" were discovered across Europe last year – the most ever recorded in a single year – with four times as many in Britain compared to any other country, a report has found.

The research, carried out by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, discovered that 16 of the new drugs were first reported in the UK.

The centre said recent developments have "led to psychoactive substances becoming available at an unprecedented pace", meaning that new ways of monitoring them would be needed.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Account Executive

Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: One of the UK’s largest and most s...

Guru Careers: Marketing and Communications Manager

£Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...

Guru Careers: Digital Designer / Interactive Designer

£ Highly Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Digital Designer / Interactive Des...

Guru Careers: Purchasing Co-ordinator / Purchasing Administrator

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Purchasing Co-ordinator / Administrator is ne...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence