Harry Hill's X Factor spoof 'I Can't Sing' arrives in the West End next year, and here are the moments from the show we hope feature.
TV review: Was Drugs Live a publicity stunt?
This rather shambolic TV experiment told us more about Channel 4's interest in grabbing headlines than the actual effects - and dangers - of MDMA.
It had to be professional raver Shabs; his garbled speeches make Paddy Doherty look like Professor Stephen Hawkings. He's already got his own Facebook 'like' page.
Despite trying very hard to be stern and scientific, the whole thing felt like a spoof. Everything from the flashing brain sculptures to the amusing interviews with drug trial participants made the programme very hard to take seriously.
I'm not clear what Channel 4 were trying to achieve with Drugs Live. If they'd ditched the 'live' aspect, we would've had an interesting, impartial documentary showing the effects of banned class A drug MDMA (usually referred to as Ecstasy) on 25 volunteers taking part in a scientific trial under strict clinical conditions.
However, Channel 4 clearly felt it necessary to balance out the footage of the Ecstasy-takers by ensuring the reasons this drug is banned were explained. Hence the live part of the programme, which was effectively an episode of Kilroy presented by an unusually ruffled-looking and unpolished Jon Snow alongside Embarrassing Bodies' Dr Christian Jessen.
Snow interviewed participants, discussed the test results with a panel of experts, consulted the audience and even - at one point - a giant, glowing brain in order to provide the serious, scientific side of the show.
"Drugs Live was entertaining for all the wrong reasons"
There was certainly an interesting cross section of society volunteering to take MDMA, including an ordained priest, the author Lionel Shriver, an ex-military man, the editor of New Scientist magazine and actor Keith Allen.
Hitting a high note?
Unfortunately for the anti-drugs lobby, almost all of the volunteers reported having quite a jolly time on a drug that made them relive their happiest memories. In the pre-recorded hospital sequences, they were fairly lucid as they described how they were experiencing "pure joy" and feeling "lovely" (it might make you cheerful, but MDMA certainly doesn't make you articulate).
This placed more pressure on the live part of the programme to highlight the negative aspects of taking the drug in case a generation of 15-year-olds decided to embrace 1990s rave music and move to Manchester.
"No wonder it was written off as a bad joke on Twitter"
Unfortunately, the producers were dependent on live television for this side of the argument - not a great idea. As the old saying goes; never work with children, animals or studio audience members named Shabs who've been taking E for 20 years and are therefore about as predictable as the weather.
To be fair, with his faraway expression and mildly-fried brain, Shabs was a pretty good advert for not taking drugs. He turned out to be a stronger deterrent than the so-called expert hauled on stage to warn viewers about the dangers of drug use.
What did you think of Drugs Live?
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- It was a interesting show, I liked it.
- I thought it was really bad.
- It was just a publicity stunt.
- It was ok.
Said expert was, frankly, baffling. He mumbled on about it reportedly causing depression in 3000 Canadian school children (I've no idea who authorised that trial), before coming out with: "Why is it dangerous? Er... well, it makes you slow at solving Sudoku questions." That's always been my main reason for avoiding drugs. Also, I've heard they make it very hard to concentrate on The Archers.
Drugs Live was entertaining for all the wrong reasons. Live television is a dangerous enough affair without involvingaudience members with substance abuse problems (not to mention dubious 'experts') and poor Jon Snow definitely had a bit of a rough ride.
Although the drug trials were genuinely thought-provoking, the live element ended up coming across like an episode of Channel 4's satirical classic, Brass Eye. This effectively killed any authority Drugs Live wanted to convey. No wonder it was written off as a bad joke on Twitter ("just say no to Drugs Live" was a very popular tweet).
Channel 4 should have offered up their arguments against MDMA in a sensible, predictable documentary rather than using an attention-seeking live format which had more than a whiff of 'publicity stunt' about it.
- Verdict: Drugs Live was a Channel 4 TV experiment that failed to achieve its aims.
What the critics said:
"Television is not often going to be interested and its goals are not often those of good, nuanced science. I also doubt there'd be so many viewers for Bone Regeneration: Live!". The Telegraph
"First things first: nobody took drugs live on Drugs Live. Rather, presenter Jon Snow and TV doctor Christian Jessen presided over an hour-long studio debate". The Guardian
What people said on Twitter:
@DannyDyer: "Can't believe there's a program on tonight on channel 4 called drugs live People taking MDMA for a scientific study #Missedthataudition".
@MattWatson: "What I learned from drugs live: Why the hell is MDMA a Class A drug and yet alcohol is legal."
@KennySenior: "Can't believe channel 4 are showing 4 celebs do drugs live on air If it goes wrong then 4 OD has to be voted best named tv channel ever."
The views in this article are those of the author alone and not of MSN or Microsoft.
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