Naked Education: Channel 4 causes stir with nude show for teens

A new Channel 4 series featuring adults taking their clothes off in front of teenagers has provoked nearly 1,000 complaints from viewers and criticism from Conservative MPs.

The six-part show, Naked Education, stars a “naked brigade” of adults who strip off in the presence of teenagers aged 14 to 16. One episode educates viewers on female anatomy, while others tackle body image issues such as penis size, hair, cosmetic surgery and ageing.

It airs at 8pm, an hour before the watershed. Broadcast regulator Ofcom said the first episode on 4 April received nearly 1,000 complaints, relating to nudity. A spokesperson for the regulator said it was assessing the complaints before deciding whether to investigate.

The programme is a successor to Channel 4’s popular nude dating show Naked Attraction, and is also hosted by Anna Richardson. But the show goes “one step further than Naked Attraction”, Richardson told The Sun, as it aims to “normalise bodies” and educate the nation. “I like to make shows that are controversial,” she added, and that “make a difference”.

Miriam Cates, the Conservative MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, told the Daily Express that it was “extremely concerning” that children under the age of consent were being exposed to naked adult bodies, which amounted to being “used by adults for political ends”.

Cates wrote to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in March raising concerns about children’s sex education lessons in schools, based on a report she compiled. 

Two other Conservative MPs, who also signed her letter, raised concerns with the Express. Brendan Clarke-Smith, MP for Bassetlaw, said he believed parents would be “horrified” by the show. Jonathan Gullis, former teacher and MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, said that if Naked Education were a film, it would come with “parental warnings and age restrictions”.

Ian Katz, Channel 4’s chief content officer, defended the show on Twitter, saying that any suggestion that it promoted paedophilia or abuses children came from people who “almost certainly” had not watched it.

The show, he said, countered “dangerous myths and toxic images” with which teenagers were “bombarded”. It aimed to correct misconceptions that can cause anxiety by showing young people normal, real bodies, he said, and having open conversations. He described it as “valuable public service broadcasting”.