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