Dr Christian Jessen, in a departure from examining peculiar ailments on Channel 4, recently had some travel advice for us: don’t wear decent brogues or listen to Adele in some parts of the world unless you want to seem ‘too gay’.
This wasn’t some new-fangled travel doc; it was Undercover Doctor, Cure Me I’m Gay. Jessen examined global practices in ‘gay cures’, something which has previously been examined in TV; Stacey Dooley’s 2012 Gay to Straight examined its implementation in the US, where it’s a contentious issue (despite Pornhub releasing stats showing the Bible Belt consumes an awful lot of gay porn).
What marked Undercover Doctor out was that the Doc tried the cures out himself, and we were there with him. From the unsettling experiences of Aversion Therapy (a treatment to associate feelings of extreme illness with homosexual thoughts and once available prescribed by the NHS) to the process of Exorcising a person – a practice that is widely seen as unethical.
The most striking parts involved Jessen’s personal reactions. He has treated many patients without batting an eyelid on Embarrassing Bodies, so when he’s pushed to tears, it’s really quite something. Seeing the gentle giant visibly shaken by a 16 year old stating homosexuality was caused by the Devil struck home with us.
For an open, honest look at an issue not often picked up on, or for an hour of something to get angry about, Undercover Doctor is a fantastic bit of TV.