Image for Nicola Roberts: The Truth About TanningNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

Duration: 1 hour

Since shooting to fame in 2002 as one fifth of one of Girls Aloud, Nicola Roberts has had to deal with life under the spotlight. As a result, everyone seems to have an opinion about her fashion, hairstyles and her naturally pale complexion.

In this documentary, Nicola goes on a personal journey to explore the culture of tanning amongst young women and men in the UK, and the extremes they will go to in order to obtain the perfect tan.

Nicola meets young women whose love of tanning is an addiction, who use sunbeds 5-6 times a week and who inject untested tanning-aid drugs. She meets girls in their early teens who, like her when she was young, experience the pressures from their peers to conform and be tanned.

Nicola reveals how she has overcome her early reliance on fake tan and her gradual sense of confidence in her own skin. She meets top dermatologists and cancer experts who explain the risks tanning addicts are exposing themselves to. Nicola's journey takes her into hospital wards where some of the estimated 120 under-40s who die from skin cancer each year are treated. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in under-35s in the UK.

Nicola meets the families of those who have died from melanoma and who are now pushing for a change in the law to protect the young from the tanning industry. Her journey takes her to Westminster, where she has the chance to rally support for a new bill that would protect under-18s from the dangers of sunbeds.

Last on

Fri 26 Feb 2010 03:15 BBC Three

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  • Photo: Nicola Roberts

    Photo: Nicola Roberts

    Nicola Roberts with computer-generated skin damage.

  • BBC Three Online talk tanning with Nicola Roberts

    BBC Three Online caught up with Nicola Roberts to talk about the personal journey she went on to explore the culture of tanning amongst young people in the UK.

    Q. So Nicola, how did you end up making the documentary? Was it your idea?

    A. It was my idea. Basically what happened was about 9 months ago I became very aware of how wrapped up we are in the way everybody looks. I felt like it was getting out of control and there was so much pressure. There are more important things in life and I wanted to highlight that whole positive message of just being pleased with who you are really.

    I wanted to use my personal journey that is what inspired me to make the documentary. I used to be really insecure about being pale and I used to really, really do a lot of excessive tanning. I used fake tan every day and I just couldn’t let one ounce of my body be seen to be pale as I just thought it was unattractive. And I know that there are lots of women out there who feel like that and they’ll go to any lengths to have a tan. And I wanted to really document that and show that this is the length that society is pushing them to. And obviously knowing that skin cancer is the fastest rising cancer in UK it just seems to be getting worse and worse and I just wanted to put it all in one bundle and portray that in the documentary.

    Read more on BBC Three's Facebook page


Nicola Roberts
Sophie Robinson
Sophie Robinson
Executive Producer
Patrick Holland


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