Presenters face a dilemma over baring all on TV

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The Independent Online
THE TELEVISION presenters Nina Myskow and Richard Jobson are faced with a problem: should they take off their clothes in front of the cameras?

They will co-host Channel 4's The Love Weekend next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, which includes a live late-night Naked Chat Show, when guests will sit around a coffee table and discuss nudity.

Some members of the audience, at the Windmill Theatre in the West End of London, will also be naked. Both Jobson, who will conduct the chat show, and Myskow, who will move around the audience with a microphone, have yet to decide. Channel 4 says it will be their choice.

At 1am on the Sunday, the Windmill will be the setting for another stunt, or breach in television taste boundaries, with the staging of a live Bondage Challenge. This will consist of three couples, experts in bondage, or what the show's producers call the 'sub-dominance scene'.

The producers say the format will be like The Generation Game. Each couple will have three minutes to tie up his or her partner: their efforts will be judged by Madam Sadie, a professional practitioner. One pair will be gay, one will be a dominant man tying up a woman and the third couple will be a dominant woman tying up a man. This game will lead into a discussion of sado-masochism.

These outre items illustrate the more daring and frank approach to sex, love and relationships being taken by broadcasters. Colin Shaw, director of the Broadcasting Standards Council, says it poses the question of whether this is taking place because of deregulation, and the need to attract larger audiences and advertising with a fail-safe subject.

Andrea Wonfor, Channel 4's controller of arts and entertainment who is in charge of The Love Weekend, said: 'It is answering a need. But you could be terribly cynical and say this is cheap programming which people like. It is both of these things. Altruism and commercial aspiration.'

The boundaries of what is acceptable on television used to be defined by drama: a naked heaving male bottom in Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective.

But recently the baton has been taken up by factual programmes: ITV's The Good Sex Guide, 10.40pm on Mondays, one of the most high-profile programmes to come from new franchise holder Carlton Television, is a mainstream example of the trend. It would have been unthinkable on ITV five years ago, but it is effective - more than doubling audiences for the time-slot.

Even BBC Radio has been influenced. On Valentine's Day, Radio 4 will be presenting A Sunday Outing, a live two-hour programme dealing with gay and lesbian topics. There will also be a gay quiz and cabaret.

Diary, page 23

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