Channel 4 slammed over new reality show
Monday, August 23 2010, 10:14 BST
By Catriona Wightman,

Channel 4 has been criticised for developing a new reality series about physical deformities.

Beauty And The Beast will see an attractive person and someone with "different types of disfigurement" share a house together, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The home will allegedly be filled with mirrors to highlight the difference between the participants' appearances, while the duo will be followed as they go on trips in London.

The programme's producers described the show as "an immersive lifestyle experience that uncovers attitudes to looks and beauty", but MediaWatch director Vivienne Pattinson criticised the concept.

"It sounds like an extraordinary freak show and Channel 4 pledged an end to this kind of voyeuristic programming when they announced the end of Big Brother," she said. "Putting a disfigured person in a mirrored house in the name of entertainment is neither a healthy nor an appropriate subject for television. If Channel 4 is seriously committed to exploring issues of physical appearance, this is not the way to do it."

However, the programme's production manager Nadia Afiari defended the series, saying: "The show is looking at society's thoughts towards beauty and how we're driven by beauty, and as part of it we're looking at disfigured people in society and how they cope on their day-to-day basis in comparison with someone who's quite obsessed with beauty."

A spokesperson for Channel 4 added: "It is part of our remit to tackle difficult and often marginalised issues and open these up to a mainstream audience and debate. The series aims to challenge people's narrow definition of beauty in a frank and engaging format and will be key to our public service offering next year."

Filming for the six-part series is expected to begin next month, while the show is currently scheduled to air in 2011.