Tag Archives: channel 4

“Men today are too soft!” says TV show trying to dictate what being a man means

Ready meals, moisturiser and no fishing: Survival ace Bear Grylls tests ‘soft’ Brit fellas

BRIT men are losing their manhood skills and becoming too ‘soft’, a survey reveals.

Even though the days of hunting and gathering are over, it seems that most men lack even the basic of survival skills.

A whopping 62% of fellas said they would not be able to start a fire without the help of a lighter.

Source: Daily Star, 5 May 2014

A news story straight out of the ‘how to be casually and unhelpfully sexist’ PR textbook here, with the British male’s ‘manliness’ in question. And, by question, I mean of course held up against a ludicrous and worthless criteria in order to find men lacking.

What ought men today be able to do, to allow them to keep their ‘man card’ and prevent them having to ‘grow a pair’ and ‘man up’? Besides being able to light a fire without the aid of a lighter, there’s a raft of other necessities:

And commiserations if you’re stuck on a desert island with a man who can’t (or won’t) help chop, hunt and fish.

The assumption here, of course, being that no woman has any of those skills – that goes without saying. No, women correctly do not know how to hunt or fish, but men incorrectly lack these required man skills.

Whereas tools such as fishing rods and knives would be the first things to be chucked into a knapsack, 29% of men would rather rely on ready meals.

The word ‘rather’ being likely crucial in that sentence – personally, given the choice (as it appears men were, in an online poll) between hunting, gutting, skinning and cooking an animal, or eating a ready meal… I’m pretty sure I’d side with the ready meal.

Lazy lifestyles and office jobs requiring sitting at a desk for up to nine hours a day are being blamed on men’s dwindling ability to deal with practical tasks.

That’s right – men are just too lazy and office-bound to be out killing small animals and casually lighting fires. If they weren’t so bloody lazy, today’s men would all be meeting the fire-and-death quota specified on the back of their ‘man cards’.

Of course, this spurious and sexist poll is nothing more than an advert for an aggressively manly TV show:

Survival guru Bear Grylls, host of new TV show The Island, said: “What happens when you strip man of all the luxury and conveniences of modern living and then force them to fight for their very existence?”

I’d imagine what happens is a TV show watched by essentially nobody, Bear.

“Sleeping is important!” says programme about the importance of sleep

Something of a rarity on Bad PR today, with an appearance from the Guardian’s sister paper, The Observer:

Sleepless nights with screaming babies can ruin your marriage and your health

A screaming baby or a TV in a child’s room can lead to the parents’ divorce, claims new series

As any parents of a young child who is a problem sleeper will confirm, permanent tiredness and constant irritability can put a huge strain on your relationship. In fact, according to a survey, lack of sleep is a big factor in divorce and separation for a third of couples.

Ahead of a new series on the subject, a poll carried out for Channel 4 suggests the average parent surveyed got fewer than six hours of sleep a night. It also found that three in 10 couples who had split up said sleep deprivation since having their child was a factor in the breakup. Nearly 45% said they had dozed off in a place they shouldn’t have or was unsafe, with one in 20 admitting to falling asleep at the wheel of their car.

Source: The Observer, 17 March 2013

The Observer wasn’t alone in running the story, of course – the Daily Mail couldn’t pass up such a gilt-edged opportunity to fill more space in their newspaper and on their website:

Sleepless nights caused by crying babies ends one in three marriages, research claims 

Sleepless nights caused by a crying baby are blamed by  parents for the breakdown of up to a third of relationships, research shows.

Parents with a young child get about six hours sleep a night, an hour less than is recommended.

Experts also say that adults need at least five hours’ uninterrupted sleep to be able to function and concentrate properly the next day.

A survey of 2,000 parents found that 30 per cent of those who had divorced or separated blamed sleepless or interrupted nights caused by their children.

Source: Daily Mail, 17 March 2013

This particular story is a little thorny and a little tricky to unpick. For one, the Observer article (if not the Mail) makes it clear up front that this research came from the TV show ‘Bedtime Live’ – in fact it was release specifically to promote the show.

Another complication is the involvement of respected researcher Dr Tanya Byron, who appears to do robust work. Perhaps, then, this isn’t simply a case of spurious researched being used to prop up the advertising for a TV show? Perhaps this is legit? 

You’d certainly be forgiven for thinking so, however I’m not sure things are so clear and above-board – for instance, note the quotes from Dr Byron supporting the findings:

‘I see people whose children have chronic sleep problems and they’ll say things like their children get really upset if they try to send them to bed.

‘Well, I promise you, they won’t hate you in the morning when they’ve had a proper rest.

‘Our generation struggles  with discipline much more than any other, but the lack of boundaries will only cause more and more difficulties.

‘From a clinical perspective, a lot of those I see in my own  clinics, predominantly children, have underlying issues with not getting enough sleep, even if that isn’t the problem they are presenting with.

As you’ll see, this says nothing at all about the headlien claim that researchers discovered how sleepless nights lead to divorce – this, clearly, is a quote from Dr Byron on her participation in the show. 

Instead, the ‘research’ which uncovered this startling fact was an online poll conducted, I believe, via Bad PR regulars OnePoll – I certainly took part in a very similar survey on their site recently. If so, I’d consider the headline-grabbing statistic that marriages are ending over sleepless nights and crying babies to be highly suspicious.

What’s more, if I were Dr Byron, I might want to have a word with the show’s producers, to make sure future press releases made it very clear which claims came from the academic and which from the PR machine.

“Loads of girls keep diaries nowadays!” says TV channel promoting show about diaries

The youth of today may not be as internet-obsessed as you might expect, and are surprisingly fond of the pen and paper, according to The Mirror recently:

Young girls use a diary not Facebook to log their most intimate thoughts

More 16-19-year-olds are turning to the private world of pen and paper to jot down what they really think

Teenage girls may use social network Facebook for cosy chats with friends but they keep their most intimate thoughts in an old fashioned diary, a survey has revealed.

In the age of social network sites which are awash with gossip, banter and everyday problems, more 16-19-year-olds are turning to the private world of pen and paper to jot down what they really think.

Research by broadcaster E4 found 83% of today’s teenage girls keep a diary compared with 69% in the 1990s when the internet was a sci-fi dream.

Source: Mirror, 14 January 2013


This would tell us something interesting and revealing about the appeal of a good, old-fashioned paper diary… were it not a press release for a new E4 TV show about diaries in a pre-internet age:

Dear Facebook, to know the REAL truth, read my diary

Research by E4 reveals personal pen-and-paper diaries more popular than ever as teens take comfort in private journals over social networking sites

Research conducted by E4 to tie in with brand new British 90’s-set series My Mad Fat Diary, based on the real-life teenage diaries of Rae Earl – starting Monday 14th January, 10pm

It’s a statistic Adrian Mole would be proud of: personal pen-and-paper diaries are more popular now than pre social-media days, as today’s teens take comfort in private journals as an outlet for their innermost thoughts and feelings, a survey by E4 has revealed.

The survey – undertaken to coincide with the launch of My Mad Fat Diary, a new 90s-set British series based on the real-life teenage diaries of Rae Earl – reveals that 83% of today’s teenage girls keep a diary, compared with 69% in the 1990s.

Source: Channel 4 press release, 14 January 2013