Journalist, broadcaster and agony aunt Mariella Frostrup is to host a new show for Channel 4, called Sex Box (1x60) which will feature candid, open and honest discussions about real sex and relationships. Sex Box is part of Channel 4’s Campaign for Real Sex Season – a season of programmes which aims to reclaim sex from porn by exploring how the ever-increasing consumption of pornography is distorting people’s expectations of sex and ultimately damaging the sex lives of Britons.
The show’s unique and experimental studio-based format is inspired by work undertaken by sex researchers and features three couples doing what comes naturally – having sex – and then talking about it afterwards.
But while the talk will be intimate the couples’ love-making will be entirely hidden from view, taking place in a private area where nobody but them can see what’s going on – inside the Sex Box.
Recorded in front of a studio audience – who, like the television audience, don’t see any sex or nudity – the show explores the average sex lives of Britons. The immediacy of the couples having just had sex is used by sex researchers to encourage a more open and honest discussion.
After their time in the Sex Box, the couples talk to Mariella Frostrup and a panel of experts: psychotherapist, broadcaster and author Phillip Hodson, sex, body language and relationship expert Tracey Cox and internationally syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage about their sex lives and the role it plays in their relationship.
Sex Box presenter Mariella Frostrup said: “Ten years as the Observer’s Agony Aunt has given me plenty of insight into what an important role sex plays in our lives but also how difficult we find to talk openly about it to each other. The sex we see on screen, in magazines and increasingly online bears little relation to the real experiences of real people. I'm delighted to take part in this attempt to have a frank conversation about an essential element of all our lives. "
The three couples include an engaged couple who were childhood sweethearts before separating only to be reunited decades later, a gay couple in their 30s who have been together for three years and who think that people just don’t know what gay sex is and a couple in their 20s who are in the first flush of love.
Ralph Lee, Head of Factual, Channel 4, said: “The explosion of online pornography is one of the stories of our time and the Campaign for Real Sex season is our response to it. Sex Box absolutely intends to be an open and adult conversation about sex, something we feel it currently being overlooked by mainstream programming.”
David Glover, Channel 4 Senior Commissioning Editor, Factual, said: “It is a rather mischievous, fun idea that actually allows sex to be completely private but the conversation to be truthful and immediate. Based on a technique used by sex researchers, we hope it will open up honest discussions about sex and the role it plays in loving relationships.”
Tracey Cox added: “We live in a sex saturated society but sex is still something we don't really talk about. It remains shrouded in myth and this is what Sex Box sets out to do: get rid of all those misconceptions and have a grown up talk about what's really happening out there. The Box itself is a unique way to get peoples' attention and to recognise that sex is a normal part of all our lives and something we need to be talking about openly and honestly."
Dan Savage said: "Many people have an easier time speaking honestly about sex with their friends - or with anonymous strangers online - than they do with their partners. But honest, fearless communication with the person (or persons!) with whom you actually have sex is central to creating successful long-term relationships. Sex is that important."
Phillip Hodson added: “People who have just had sex tend to be less inhibited and are more likely to talk openly and honestly. This is a great opportunity to show that sex is normal and not as worrying, or complicated or frightening or significant as people often think it is.”
Sex Box is produced by independent production company Clearstory for Channel 4. Executive producers are Molly Milton, Russell Barnes and Rachel Ashdown.
The Campaign for Real Sex Season starts on 30 September at 10pm with Porn on the Brain.
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