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Sex, Lies and Love Bites: The Agony Aunt Story

Psychotherapist and agony aunt Philippa Perry presents a documentary exploring the problem page's enduring appeal, picking her way through three centuries of advice.

Psychotherapist and agony aunt Philippa Perry presents a witty and revealing look at the problem page's enduring appeal. In the documentary Philippa picks her way through three centuries of advice on broken hearts, cheating partners and adolescent angst to uncover a fascinating portrait of our social history.

She talks to fellow agony aunts and uncles like the Telegraph's Graham Norton and the Sun's Deidre Sanders about their experiences, as well as exploring the work of advice columnists past, like the 17th-century inventor of the problem page, John Dunton. The advice may change, but she discovers that, when it comes to subjects like love and courtship, the same old problems keep on cropping up.

Through the work of generations of advice columnists Philippa charts the developing battle of the sexes, the rise of the middle classes and a revolution in social attitudes. For much of the 20th century, agony aunts avoided any mention of trouble in the bedroom. Philippa explores the pioneering work of agony aunts like Claire Rayner, who began to offer frank sex advice in the 1960s. Today, sex takes pride of place on the problem page, as Philippa discovers for herself when she takes a starring role in the Sun's photo casebook, which is famous for its real-life problems illustrated with pictures of semi-clad ladies.

At a time when advice is more easily available than ever before, Philippa reflects on why agony aunts are often still our first port of call, and on what makes reading about other people's problems so irresistible.

1 hour

Last on

Thu 14 Feb 2019 22:00

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Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Philippa Perry
Producer Eleanor Scoones
Director Eleanor Scoones
Executive Producer Emma Hindley

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