Viewers of This Morning up and down the country got to see a lot more than they bargained for when they tuned in to ITV to watch the popular daytime television show on Tuesday morning, as they ran a special feature called “Bondage for Beginners” which was intended to tie in with the impending cinematic release of Fifty Shades of Grey.
The segment saw relationship and sex expert Annabelle Knight; give presenters Phillip Schofield and Christine Bleakley a lesson on introducing a little ‘kinky fun’ into the bedroom. Knight proceeded to bring out a range of items, including blindfolds, a collar/leash and a crystal body wand, the uses of which were then demonstrated by two scantily clad models on a bed elsewhere in the studio and reviewed by three random members of the public who have since been affectionately dubbed the “ladies of leather”.
Reports have shown that so far over 70 complaints have been made about the segment (which is the second questionable item aired on the show in the space of a month, following their testing of vagina facials two weeks ago); with the majority claiming that the feature was inappropriate for morning viewing, as it was aired between 10:00 and 11:00.
As you would expect the internet lost its marbles, as members of the public took to Twitter to share their opinions on the raunchy feature. Lucy Hannah (@BartonLucex) posed the important question “how is that legal at 10:00am?” while Adam Brooks (@EssexPR) said “just spat out my tea”.
However not everyone was as unimpressed by the early morning sexcapades; Claire Gresty M (@clairegmccleary) thinks that “kids see hell of a lot more on pop videos, [it] was just a bit of fun” and continued on to suggest that Schofield or resident This Morning chef Gino D’Acampo, should have been the ones to demonstrate the proper use of the products.
An ITV spokesman has since released a statement saying that “This Morning is a lifestyle programme that covers a diverse range of human interest topics. The programme has dealt with advice on sexual matters many times in the past, and a suitable announcement was given at the start”.
Similarly, Phillip Schofield took to social media to share his views on the whole debacle, “the show has been doing these sort of items (along with more serious & less frivolous issues) since it started!” He then proceeded to highlight the ridiculousness of the debate by posting an article from the Daily Mail, who claimed to be outraged by the TV segment yet still posted several pictures of the bondage lesson.
The show’s website page which featured clips from this episode also revealed several interesting figures taken from an Ann Summers survey (so obviously a completely, utterly, 100% non-biased source) about Fifty Shades of Grey and relationships, including the finding that 85% of women relate more to the dominant Christian Grey than the submissive protagonist Anastasia Steele and 81% of women are more likely to encourage experimentation within their relationship. Presumably ITV thought that this information, plus the popularity of Fifty Shades, which has currently pre-sold more than 500,000 movie tickets across the UK, France, Australia and New Zeland, was justification enough to provide viewers with such unusual early morning content.
It can’t be denied that the topic is of great interest across the world at the moment. EL James’ crazily successful Twilight fanfiction has had everyone in a tizzy, but does this mean that it’s ok to shove it in our faces between episodes of Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women? As Knight points out during the show, matters of bondage and BDSM are about trust and thus are very private and personal. Which is the main reason why talking about it on national television was always bound to cause so much trouble. We’re not used to discussing these things so openly, especially not at home at 10:00 in the morning with other people (possibly parents or children) around us.
After watching the show back, it is clear to see where the real problem with the segment lies, which is with the overly keen looking couple showcasing the sex toys. The pair are cringeworthy at best and put an uncomfortable spin on what starts off as a perfectly reasonable attempt at giving alternative lifestyle advice, which is what it seems the show was aiming to do. Knight’s tips weren’t wholly different from those you might see if you leaf through the pages of a recent issue of Cosmo, or even if you look back at the annual sex issue of Concrete. But these are places where it is deemed acceptable to talk about sexual experimentation, places where you can look at images of couples in their underwear and not feel uncomfortable, because it’s ‘normal’ for them to be there and you expect to see it on their pages.
You don’t expect to see these images on daytime television and you certainly don’t expect to watch Phillip Schofield hanging nipple clamps from his ears gleefully. But if you were watching on Tuesday that’s exactly what you saw. Maybe you were interested, maybe you learnt something, or perhaps you instantly changed the channel, but either way this happened and evidently the people of This Morning regret nothing.