Sex Box: the TV show that hopes to ‘reclaim sex from pornography’

Sep 23, 2013
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A sound-proofed box in a television studio may not be a dream romantic setting, but then most lovers would probably not leap out of bed for a postcoital interview with Mariella Frostrup. Yet this is the format of a new Channel 4 program that aims to “reclaim sex from pornography” by delving between the sheets of British people.

 

Mariella Frostrop hopes Channel 4's Sex Box will provoke a 'mature, intelligent discussion'

 

The show, called Sex Box, features three couples invited to have sex in an opaque cube before being interviewed by Frostrup and a panel of experts.

The trysts will take place away from the gaze of the cameras – albeit in the middle of a television studio – in an hour-long pre-recorded programme .

Frostrup, the Observer’s agony aunt who fronts the show, said she anticipated some viewers and critics would react with horror, but hoped that the programme would provoke a “mature, intelligent discussion” about sex in modern Britain.

“I approached it with great trepidation and a degree of scepticism, particularly about why we needed a box, but ultimately I think it was a really really mature – surprisingly for television – look at a subject we’ve allowed to proliferate in its worst manifestations and refuse to confront,” she said.

In the show, the cameras stop rolling as 20-somethings Rachel and Dean are the first to enter the “sex box”. Next to step into the four-metre-square cube are long-term lovers Matt and John, and, later, childhood sweethearts Lynette and Des.

The ins and outs of their sex lives are then discussed by a panel of experts including relationship adviser Tracey Cox, sex columnist Dan Savage and the author Phillip Hodson.

While the couples might be firmly out of their comfort zone, the show is a return to familiar territory for Channel 4. The programme is set to air on 7 October – at the watershed-friendly time of 10pm – as part of its Campaign for Real Sex season, which follows a long tradition of risqué broadcasting on the channel.

Its former chief executive Michael Grade was once dubbed “Britain’s pornographer-in-chief” by the Daily Mail.

But Channel 4’s head of factual programming, Ralph Lee, said there was “nothing salacious” about the show and that “strangely it’s quite a chaste programme – there’s no sex in it”.

“The explosion of online pornography is one of the stories of our time and this absolutely intends to be an open, adult, quite deep conversation about sex,” he said. “The experts we have are not flippant people. That said, there is a levity to the conversation. It’s not a massive furrowed-brow type conversation because there’s something mischievous when you watch it. We’re confident there’s a sincere motive behind it.”

Channel 4’s Campaign for Real Sex season begins on 30 September with Porn on the Teenage Brain, a look at the world of pornography by former Loaded editor Martin Daubney.

That will be followed by a documentary about a group of women’s pursuit for better sex, called The Week the Women Came, and another introducing three pornography fans to their favorite adult movie stars, titled Date My Porn Star.

• This article was amended on 23 September to clarify that the program is part of Channel 4’s Campaign for Real Sex season, not as originally stated

 

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