Introducing the Dangerous Pleasures season on BBC Three
There is no denying it, Christmas is a time of excess - lots of partying, and the constant temptation to overeat, drink too much and generally over indulge. January always feels like a time to rein it all in, to make New Year resolutions and to turn over a new leaf. So exactly the right time we think to launch our new Dangerous Pleasures Season on BBC Three: a season of intelligent, provocative, and really informative factual programmes which explore the dangerous consequences of young people's pursuit of pleasure today - from drug taking and binge drinking to unprotected sex.
As the Commissioning Editor for Documentaries at the BBC I'm really delighted to be contributing to the season because it gives us a real opportunity to engage our audiences in very timely and relevant issues that really matter to them, and to do so in a way that isn't preaching or patronising. We've all watched those anti drugs and drinking videos they show you at school which can of course be really helpful. But in the Dangerous Pleasures season we've been able to explore the dark side of drugs, sex and booze through the eyes and experiences of young people themselves. Take the series How Drugs Work where we follow a group of real young people who use drugs recreationally, and trace the effects of cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy on the human body with the help of groundbreaking CGI effects. Clearly everyone understands the risks associated with speaking out about drug use, but we were amazed how many people wanted to be take part and get involved. Drugs are part of their lives and they wanted to find out more and have their say. Have a look at Emily Atack in Ready, Steady, Drink and James Alexandrou in Cannabis: What's the Harm? They have both had personal experiences of the consequences of extreme lifestyles and we are lucky enough to have them share their stories and offer invaluable insights. And in Laura Hall's film, we witness the highs and horrifying lows of six years of binge drinking that have lead to over 40 arrests and 29 convictions, as she attempts to get herself back on track.
Clearly it's important we don't glamorise any of these issues and we've all worked hard to strike the right tone and balance in every film. But with the highest drug consumption and addiction levels in Europe, I genuinely believe it's our job as a public service broadcaster to approach challenging issues head on and to make sure we don't shy away from subjects just because they feel risky or taboo. The other thing to note is that none of our contributors have benefitted either financially or in-kind through taking part in our programmes and we are incredibly lucky and grateful that they were brave enough to come forward to let us tell their stories. We know the BBC Three audience wants to know more about these subjects and I think it's our duty to inform them. In fact I think these films should be compulsive viewing beyond our core audience and for all parents too. The films are full of myth busting facts and information. Jaime Winstone lifts the lid on orophyrangeal cancer which is caused by oral sex. We learn what Cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy does to the brain. Why you get a high - and why it's surely followed by a low - and the long term effects this process has. Most young adults are just told not to touch drugs without being educated on why they should avoid it. At last we're given the real facts.
A few weeks ago, I was sat on a panel at the BBC Vision Forum discussing whether young people really watched documentaries anymore. I was sitting next to Stacey Dooley from the BBC Three hit Blood Sweat and T Shirts who explained how only 2 years ago her peers really thought only geeks were interested in docs. But now she tells me, documentaries are 'cool' again. And the figures on BBC Three are there to prove it. Incredibly there has been an average 80% increase in viewers reach for documentary viewing since 2008 on BBC Three. Our audiences are really curious about the world they live in. They are not afraid of challenging content and issues. And I hope we've hit the right mark for them with the Dangerous Pleasures season too
Charlotte Moore is the Commissioning Editor for Documentaries at the BBC