Naturists Campaigning for Naturism

Review: The Great British Skinny Dip

Media: UK Television, Channel 4
Broadcast: 14 Feb 2017
Running Time: 60 minutes.

Screen Grab: The Great British Skinny Dip (c) Channel 4

I should come ‘clean’ straight away and tell you that, as I don’t own a TV I have not seen this programme personally but republish an extract of a post by Andy Crawford, which went up soon after transmission.

This documentary follows Andrew Welch the Commercial Manager for British Naturism creating a number of ‘skinny dip’ events across the country in order [to get] people to try naturism for the first time.

This hour long programme portrays UK club naturism as it is. Most naturist club members are older people who like camping and socialising together, but [clubs] want to boost their numbers and get more people and particularly younger people, involved.

Andrew has the unenviable task of selling ‘Naturism’ to the public. Sadly, the overall result of The Great British Skinny Dip events and how many newcomers they eventually attract is disappointingly low. [To] be fair, the British weather was particularly bad that day, but Andrew remains upbeat and positive about it all and of the future of British naturism.

The programme also follows his relationship with new partner Sheryn, who is not a naturist but [is eventually persuaded] to try it, both by Andrew’s enthusiasm and not wishing to disappoint him. [She joins] a naturist club… and participates at one of the naturist events.

Also interviewed in the programme was a neighbour of a naturist who didn’t like the idea of naturism but accepted that this is what her neighbours did. The neighbour had some serious self-image and body issues over her weight and looks, and claimed that there was no way that she could participate in naturism because of this. She was also a bit envious of her naturist neighbours who could. The great irony is that if she participated in naturism, then she would almost certainly lose her phobias, boost her own self-esteem and feel a lot better about herself. That irony was lost on her, perhaps lost on the non-naturist audience too. Especially when you consider that she was a younger woman and that her naturist neighbours were somewhat older.

The programme left me with a feeling that:
– Naturism is for older people.
– That British naturist clubs are dying out.
– That selling Naturism as a product itself is not viable.

You can read the entire post about the show at Andy’s Personal Blog but read the rest of this one before you go there.

I would like to pick up on the last of Andy’s bullet points; that selling naturism as a product itself is not viable. While accepting the premise, my question is: what is it that British Naturism and Andrew Welch trying to sell? Is it ‘just having a good time’ or is it a concept, an idea, much like a belief system. If they are trying to sell a good time then Welch and everyone else attempting to do so are up against competition with serious amounts of money and are, quite frankly, more likely to loose. On the other hand if it’s an idea then while it is the more difficult sell, other things could hang from it. As a good example of this, take a look at the website for The Vegetarian Society. There they tell you why you should be a vegetarian and even help you to take that first step by providing a booklet with recipes for meals for you to make. But that is not all the society does, they then tell the entrepreneurs among us what the society can do for them and their business. Whether you agree or not with the concept, you have to admire their ability to ‘sell’ vegetarianism to the curious and encourage business-minded people to set up vegetarian businesses to serve a niche clientele: Restaurant, B&B, whatever. Maybe television shows like The Great British Skinny Dip, however well meaning, is not really helping. On the contrary, it may be re-enforcing the views of the woman featured in the show and referred to by Andy in his blog, not dispelling them.

In his resignation letter to the INF, Stéphane Déschenes of The Naturist Living Show fame suggested that the organisation should become more like a United Nations, somewhere to formulate the idea of naturism worldwide. Maybe, organisations like British Naturism need to think along similar lines and perhaps take a few hints from The Vegetarian Society. I think NAG should too.

15 Responses to Review: The Great British Skinny Dip

  • I cannot take this review seriously since you haven’t even seen the documentary. It wasn’t perfect, but it was an affectionate look at Naturism, certainy did us no harm and probably a lot of good!

  • If you read the post again Christine you’ll see I didn’t write the review part of the post. We have republished the words of Andy Crawford who did watch it. I only picked up on his last bullet point about trying to sell naturism to the curious textile.

    We have seen – well I haven’t obviously – a lot of programmes that shows naturism, and by and large naturists, as the behaviour of elderly eccentrics and even if they are affectionate, can we really say they do us no harm at all?

    The bit that was mine, the latter part was trying to convey that the Commercial Manager’s tactics to sell naturism to the populace hasn’t worked by any measure of success you’d like to name and it was time that something new was tried. I offered the thought that perhaps BN should take a leaf our of The Vegetarian Society‘s book (no pun intended) and start selling naturism as a concept, an idea, by telling people why they should be naturists. True, that will be harder than ‘have a good time and get your kit off’, which is what been done for far too long in my opinion, and perhaps others too.

  • I watched the show and was utterly disappointed. There were plenty of adverts for the program on prime time for over a week in advance with some good snippets, so hopefully a lot of interest gathered to watch the show.
    However the program itself was a car crash for both Naturism and BN (in my opinion).
    The portrayal of the Great British Skinny Dip, instead of being a fun, adrenalin day to get naked and have a dip, was more focused on getting younger people to get naked, and filling membership [for their] clique clubs. The worst part was when they were out and about handing out leaflets, one elderly gentleman was advising people there would be young naked girls at the event!
    I watched to the end behind closing eyes and was glad to see the credits roll. Thankfully the biggest mistake of the program was not to advertise a Twitter hashtag. However Twitter was [still] a wash of comments on the program, all negative bar a few.

  • At least I was trying to do something positive for Naturism in that documentary and of course unlike all the other commentators NAG has ignored my part in it!
    I have had hundreds of positive comments from lots of unexpected places. NAG is giving the impression of being grumpy old men on the sidelines with this approach!

  • Christine, I’m not denying you were ‘trying’ to do something positive for Naturism, but the way it came across after editing was far from inspiring for Naturism.
    The documentary showed a dying breed of older naturists, struggling to keep their dream alive, clique clubs trying to bolster numbers of ‘younger’ Naturists with families with an attempt to persuade them to get naked in front of complete strangers. The persona broadcast was there wasn’t enough eye candy in the clubs. Have you ever thought that the younger Naturists are happier stripping off on a foreign beach, at home, or on secluded walks, and not at a designated club with strict committees and draconian rules, where if your face doesn’t fit you won’t get in!
    The idea of having to go to a designated campsite, with the above features actually puts me off Naturism, I’d much rather enjoy it in my own relaxed surroundings, or on walks here or abroad.
    Look at the wide spectrum of people who partake in the Naked Bike Ride, probably 80-90% of those are not members of BN, or a club, but are enjoying Naturism.

  • While I take your point AndyH, the World Naked Bike Ride is a protest and has nothing directly to da with naturism. It just so happens that a lot of the organisers – here in the UK anyway – seem to be naturists. I would also like to think there is enough variety in naturism to have both open space and club naturism. Both have their own value.

  • Oh yes, I was “trying”; I got the inverted commas; very trying no doubt.
    I know you’re against Andrew W but why trash me as well? I was always a supporter of NAG; now I’m unsure.

  • Christine, you’ve taken the ‘trying’ completely the wrong way! It means you were trying your best to portrayal a good view of naturism, but through no fault of your own that’s not (in my personal view) came across in the program. As for Andrew Welch, I’ve not got any agenda against Andrew, not personally or in his role in BN, and to suggest such angers me. This is the very reason I’m not, or never will be, a member of a naturist club. I much prefer enjoying naturism as nature intended.

  • Reg, the Naked Bike ride, although not a naturist organised event, does show people can get along naked, partly dressed or dressed in an environment not promoted as a naturist event. Would these people partake in a seaside skinny dip to highlight beach pollution and plastic waste? More than likely, but would they turn up to an event just to get naked and [splash about] in the sea (Great British Skinny Dip)? Maybe a change of focus would be a good idea to promote naturism.

  • No one was trashing you or your efforts Christine. Andy Crawford’s review made no reference to any individual except Andrew Welch. Nor from what I read of AndyH’s comments was he. His observation was that despite your best efforts the way the programme was edited naturism as a whole didn’t come out well.

  • Fair point and don’t know are my answers.

  • I was looking forward to seeing a program on the Great British Skinny Dip but felt the time would also be spent in selling the benefits of taking up Naturism. Similar to Andy H, I felt the time spent did not do the movement justice.

    In my opinion, nobody seemed to point out what its like to be so close to nature having the fresh air round your body and just how relaxing this can be and the chance of joining in at the skinny dip or other events. I also feel that an opportunity was missed here in getting new people to join in. Unless I missed it, at no point was there any reference made as to where to contact for more information about the movement nor any website pointed out in order to gain information.

  • The thing is Christine whatever you do someone else can always do it better. The only problem is they never do anything.

    Andy please submit any scripts or programme ideas to http://www.thegardenproductions.tv/.
    They will be pleased to hear from you.

    Better yet make your own programme and upload it to You Tube.

    I say well done Christine and to everyone who took part

  • There were some lovely people on that program, but once again the way the programs are produced and the overall content of the program simply missed an opportunity to celebrate the wider world of naturism.

    Why do all these programs seem to concentrate on the resorts and clubs. I’d never go to those sorts of places clothed or unclothed. There are so many naturists (and there are many amongst my naturists friends) who love being nude on the beaches or sometimes in the landscape but have no interest in joining masses of others.

    Whether we like it or not, there is a general preconception about naturists that a) we are all weirdoes b) We are mostly middle or old age men c) that we are all grossly overweight and d) there must be something sexual about it all.

    Now as a naturist who for over 25 years and having been to dozens of naturist beaches here and abroad I can honestly say that some of their preconceptions are largely true (but few naturists ever accept it).

    Most of the people my partner and I see on the beaches ARE very overweight and hardly the picture of the healthy lifestyle we say we are promoting. The majority of the beachgoers are actually male, either lone males or males in couples, straight & gay. There are hardly ever single females or even pairs of females on many of the beaches I’ve been to though slightly more in perhaps in Lanza.

    The sheer numbers of swingers and doggers and open sex going on behind beaches is now more abundant than ever and even on busy beaches with families my partner has had to deal with single (usually very fat men) lying a few feet away wanking whilst staring at her.

    Now I am sure that most purist traditional naturists don’t fall into that band but sadly it is now a part of most popular naturist beaches from Portugal to Studland to Morfa Dyffryn and even at remote spots where you used to be able to find undisturbed solitude.

    Many of us have no desire to join clubs, and some of us look after ourselves and keep fit and eat healthily and try to have respect for our bodies but these programs have rarely if ever shown many young fit attractive people – almost always older, fatter unfit people YET Andrew and others are trying to attract new members, and young new members. Honestly, do you think that trendy youngsters will have any real interest in joining naked old people clubs?

    What each program has continued to confirm is that naturist clubs and resorts are failing and less people (in the UK especially) than ever are becoming naturists.

    Andrew had the right idea to go to the hippy dance club full of youngsters where some really did show some interest before the misguided female compare said no nudity because of the kids!

    Our own daughters friends do skinny dip when abroad so the good looking youngsters are out there and the potential is there but programs like these are missing the attract newcomers button by a million miles.

    There does need to be a program/s made that interview the good looking youngsters, the celebs who go nude, the models who go nude, other events where people go nude, alone and as groups. There needs to be elements about young attractive people who are life models, nude photo models, naked rock climbers, mountain bikers, sailors, scuba divers or any situations where crazy carefree people enjoy being nude.

    There needs to be interviews with solitary naturists, naturist couples who don’t join clubs but please, we must stop hiding away from the reality the sexy attractive men and women are wrong for the lifestyle. They are vital to attract newcomers – in advertising its all about creating the desire and these programs (generally) that always seem to dwell on the infighting between sometimes dogmatic sad old men is really nailing the coffin lid down on British naturism in particular, reaffirming all the negatives and unhealthy body image that is perceived by the textiles looking in on us.

  • I have to agree with many of the posts. I have been a naturist for a long time. My children have been raised as naturists and with the exception of the last two years, I was a fully paid member of BN. I am no youngster, but I am young at heart. Whilst I do embrace body positivity, I choose to eat well, exercise and maintain a fit and healthy body. I am also interested in environmental issues, off grid living; I guess I could best be described as a hippy.

    Last year, we toured around various clubs and those with green sites. To be fair, we found a couple that we liked and would consider joining, but in the main, what we found were mostly very elitist, cliquey, aged with the usual overbearing committees and their rules. There were a few clubs that could be described as friendly, youthful in outlook and most of all fun, but not very many.

    Which brings me onto my next point; “the Documentary” which I personally found depressing and uninspiring. There were all the usual stereotypes; naked man cooking sausages on his BBQ, overweight and saggy men and women – we are not all like that. Very little really to appeal to somebody considering trying naturism and then of course the tabloid newspapers and unflattering and untrue comments about naturists. Is that the kind of promotion we need to resort to? The Sun [and] The Mirror?

    The icing on the cake for me was the handing out of the flyers to promote the skinny dip. One man attempting to pull men off the street on the premise that he would be able to see girls if he went along – frankly horrendous. Another BN Rep saying to one young lady that he looked forward to seeing more of her! As per the person posting above, I have been stalked by single men and so has my daughter. It is unpleasant and intimidating.

    So as a lady naturist, I can only state that I found the documentary disappointing and certainly in no way representative of me or the way of life that I love.

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