Thanks to everyone who facebook-ed/tweeted/commented/emailed me to express their agreement with my complaint to ITV1 regarding their programme ‘Dying to be Thin’. To those people: I wish I had better news vis a vie ITV’s response. Below is the load of sanctimonious, emotive old twaddle I received by way of reply, which failed to acknowledge or address any of my original complaint, other than to say “we DIDN’T do that” (which shows the intellectual maturity of a five year old):
Dear Ms Devon,
Thank you very much for your email regarding the Tonight programme – Dying to Be Thin (5/1/12)
The purpose behind this Tonight programme was to examine certain eating disorders, dispel some myths associated with them and to raise awareness.
We believe we achieved this as almost four million people watched the programme which received an overwhelmingly positive response. We have just heard that B-eat received five times the number of calls they usually receive – mainly from parents who believed their children were displaying signs of an eating disorder. B-eat who worked with us from the time the programme was commissioned was totally prepared for the volume and type of calls they might receive and have reported to us that all calls were dealt with and all concerns, from parents, were handled.
We did not suggest that anorexia and bulimia were the same illness. We were talking about figures and said that these are two specific and well known eating disorders which are on the rise.
We consulted with both Dr Tony Jaffa at the Phoenix Centre and Dr Dee Dawson throughout our research and filming and did not at any point in the film suggest that you are only anorexic if you weight 5 stone. In the programme we highlighted the point that eating disorders “are complex mental illnesses.”.
The programme did give hope to carers. We featured the case of Lisa, who, our reporter Fiona Foster, met eight years ago and who was anorexic at that point. She has now recovered and we felt that showing her recovery left parents and sufferers with the most positive message - that children can recover from anorexia.
The Eating Disorders Association - B-eat was prepared for all types of calls from viewers and was able to handle them all. We also had the number for Anorexia, Bulimia, Care on our website.
The part of the programme focusing on young girls looking at pictures of themselves was used to show that girls as young as seven are aware of different body shapes and the significance of these shapes to them, even at such a young age.
The programme resonated with parents across the country and we were contacted by one couple who thanked ITV for saving their daughter’s life after the programme prompted her to open up to her parents about her anorexic feelings and talking to them about how to deal with her feelings.
We appreciate your concerns and at ITV we always seek to make responsible programmes. If we make a further programme looking at eating disorders in the future we will bear these concerns in mind.
Development Producer, Tonight