The UK’s Channel 4 is moving ahead with a two-part factual programme in which volunteers will be filmed taking Class A drugs.
Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial (working title) will air on C4 this autumn, produced by Renegade Pictures.
The programmes will feature volunteers taking MDMA, a pure form of ecstasy, and having their brain activity monitored. This will be part of a scientific experiment into the drug’s effects, carried out by researchers from Imperial College and University College in London.
There will also be a live studio debate between members of the public, scientists, police, politicians and campaigners. Original plans to have the drugs administered live on air have been vetoed by the UK Home Office and the experiment must now be pre-recorded.
Actor and singer/songwriter Keith Allen is one of the volunteers taking part, alongside author Lionel Shriver, a female vicar and an ex-SAS soldier, according to reports in the UK press.
C4 senior commissioning editor David Glover said: “These programmes will feature a scientific study that aims to demonstrate the effects of using ecstasy on the brain and behaviour alongside a grown-up debate about the issues raised featuring a wide range of views. This is a programme that only Channel 4 would be brave enough to commission.”
The concept of the show was first mooted by the publicly owned channel’s chief creative officer Jay Hunt at the launch of the C4 annual report in May 2011.
Alan Hayling, editorial director at Renegade, subsequently told C21: “It will be very responsible, very scientific and will offer an insight into how science and research is actually done.
“We’re examining the area between public policy and science. It’s a difficult show to make. There are ethical, moral and live TV issues to consider. There are a lot of logistical issues to go through.” Hayling will executive produce the show with Liz Foley editing.