Jamie Oliver’s show criticised over boys being asked for sperm samples

February 21st, 2011 - 4:34 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Feb 21 (ANI): British chef Jamie Oliver’s new TV series on Channel 4 has received a barrage of criticism after it featured two teenage boys being asked to produce sperm samples for analysis in a science class.

The scenes will be featured in Jamie’s Dream School, in which he attempts to turn around a group of troubled teenagers by sending them to a school run by celebrities.

As part of the seven-week series, the teachers, including Tony Blair’s wife Cherie and his former communications chief Alastair Campbell, were asked to devise classes about their specialist field.

The controversial biological test was set up by leading fertility expert Professor Robert Winston to interest the 20 pupils, who have been removed or excluded from mainstream education, in “the excitement of science”.

In the one-hour programme, to be screened next month, Winston, 70, asks two boys in the mixed class of youngsters aged 16 to 18 to leave the room to produce a sperm sample for investigation under microscopic analysis where it will be compared with the sperm of other animals, including horses and pigs.

“It was as close to the edge as you could get but that’s how I wanted my lessons to be,” the Daily Mail quoted Lord Winston, who has presented a string of BBC documentaries on human development, as saying in a newspaper article.

“I got some boys to leave the room and come back with a sample of their own seminal fluid for the class to look at under the microscope.

“Instantly kids of both sexes were very excited. I could have brought samples with me into the classroom but everyone knows that that wouldn’t have been the same as looking at your own body.

“Every scientist, if he is good at his job will have experimented on his own body at some point,” he stated.

A spokesman said all the pupils involved in the programme were given a fortnight’s warning about the experiment, which took place while the show was being filmed in North London at the end of last year, and could have opted out.

“Written consent was given by the parents of the boys providing samples. All of the students were happy with the lesson and found it enlightening,” he said.

“Professor Winston - a pioneer of IVF treatment - wanted the students to see that biology is about them and that everyone should understand their own body and reproductive functions.

“He felt that the lesson helped to connect the students to the issue.

“Jamie’s Dream School aims to engage twenty 16-18 year olds who have left school with few qualifications and persuade them to give education a second chance,” he stated.

But David Turtle, spokesman for the pressure group Mediawatch UK, said it was just a cheap way to get boost ratings and increase advertising revenues.

“From our point of view it’s condoning a form of behaviour in a classroom situation,” he said.

“If you’re going to have a proper discussion about reproduction and sexuality you don’t do it like this.

“We have serious concerns about the programme and we have concerns about Jamie Oliver as a role model for young people. Mr Winston’s involvement seems very unusual,” he added.

Former Home Office Minister Ann Widdecombe found it hugely distasteful, and was amazed Channel 4 is letting it be aired. (ANI)

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