There is a gigantic paradox at the heart of Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies series, which is that many of the people featured, who have neglected to take their ailments to their GP because they are too shy to unveil their afflictions in front of one doctor, seemed quite happy to spread their bumcheeks in a makeshift consulting room in front of a nation of millions.
Last week’s TV was a carnival of disease thanks to the Embarrassing Illnesses doctors, who took to the road in convoy to spread their message countrywide. It was a bit like a mobile library, only we were browsing haemorrhoids.
The result was a series of programmes focusing on skin, breasts, vaginas and men, and if ever you needed a look into the neurotic, fearful and self-defeating psyche of your average human, you’d find it here. The things people had put up with for years, simply because it was easier than taking it to their GP, boggles the mind.
The episode focusing on women was compulsive TV. One poor woman had been wee-ing herself once a day. Another had been shaving her face. Another stopped having sex after childbirth because it didn’t feel right. The camera helpfully zoomed in to show her rectum and bladder fighting to escape through her vagina. It looked like something out of Alien. I’m never having children.
Apparently, we girls are quite rubbish at getting our genitals checked or even talking about our lady gardens, as displayed by a group of giggling teens discussing their issues with a member of the team. (Mind you, I’d have difficulty talking about vaginas to a doctor called Pixie. Unless you gave me drugs.) So, the chiselled male doctor stood in a shopping centre offering smear tests in the manner of a timeshare salesman and a woman visited an exercise class and took the women through a vulval examination, using her own vagina as a model.
This was part of “Vulval Awareness Week. “What is a vulva?” most people wanted to know, having always assumed it was a reliable car.
Meanwhile, we met the divorcee unhappy with her flaps. Too flappy by half, apparently. She had them snipped off by a cosmetic surgeon and is now hoping to be confident enough to date again. Now that is one post-modern way to meet a man.
The country’s problems, it seems, are abundant. “Don’t just sit on it. Do something about it,” the doctors urged. Particularly sound advice for the woman who had been sitting on a prolapse since she was sixteen. You don’t want to know what she had to do to go to the loo but suffice to say she needed to wash one hand particularly well afterwards.
Next up, Men’s problems - and here the team went softly, softly, catchee monkey, setting up their surgery next to a bar. Notoriously bad at getting down to the doctors, the men were, predictably, sitting on a right load of issues.
Well, except the first guy to enter the mocked up surgery. “I’ve just had my penis pierced,” he told the good looking female doctor.
“Do you want to get it out then?”
Did he. He looked pleased as punch. It was just a bit bruised, apparently. He left with a swagger and the knowledge that he’d just had a woman examine his knob and he didn’t have to buy her a drink.
Then there was a man who had prostrate cancer and was worried it was getting worse. He was understandably concerned about what treatment might involve. Being sick. Death. “God forbid I go bald” he said, ignoring the fact that he already had. He had to have his prostrate removed. A prostrate, you’ll be delighted to learn, looks like a small haggis.
Men don’t like to get their prostate checked because, as one specialist put it, “a man visiting a doctor so he can stick his finger up his bum is not that appealing a prospect.” They should include beer and nuts and Sky Sports, make it a party.
It was all very entertaining and enlightening stuff. I’ve not seen so much genitalia on show since I holidayed in Tenerife. At one point we were urged to text balls, boobs, mole or vulva to 83188. I’m not sure why.
Oh yes! It was to get a guide on how to check for cancer. Guys, you should be having a good rummage once a month, apparently, which at least gives you an excuse to have your hands stuffed down your pants. I don’t know what you’re going to say the other 29 days of the month.
And then, just like that, the doctors were gone. The series was over. Infections cleared up, genitalia trimmed, bums sorted and balls in order.
Don’t worry about going to the doctor with whatever you are worried about because, as the TV doctors repeatedly reassured us, “We’ve seen it all before.”
I know exactly how they feel.