10 Years Younger (in 10 Days)
A disturbing and unpleasant show – thanks new look Channel 4! But such concerns are fit for discussion on sibling blog Do You See. No, what I want to bring to your attention is the poor methodology of the show.

At the start of the show 100 people are asked the age of a stranger (the show’s victim) who is self avowedly looking years ahead of their time. The average age is then assessed – and it’s usually about 5 years above their actual age. (I am a terrible guesser – I always think they’re actually younger). The offensive (to stomach, televisual aesthetics, and “well being”) task is to knock 10 years off this average age after 10 days of unpleasant activity. Then, once again, 100 people are asked the victim’s age to measure success.

Crucially the agebefore is assessed from a distance, and the ageafter is assessed within earshot of the victim! Now surely, SURELY, this is a transparent flaw that fair SCREAMS out of the screen at you*. Obviously you are more likely to shift your estimate of age down within earshot. But what exactly is the visual effect of the difference? Perhaps the bad skin doesn’t show up at that distance, or perhaps the beauty therapy is more notable at close range.

Crucially the effect is unknown and uncontrolled. Perhaps E4 will do a cable-only investigation into the bias that distance introduces. Perhaps not, as the show has so far failed to take off 10 years in both of the shows I saw, and maybe they discovered it made the show’s working title even more of a lie. “Take 5 Years off in a Week” not so snappy. “Tidy Yourself Up a Bit and Look Your Age in a Few Days” also didn’t fly with the commissioning editor.

I would also like to know what each process contributes to the age drop, then perhaps the participants could weight that by a pain factor. If the “new coat, shirt and a comb through the hair” process contributes 50% of the reduction, and the “botox, lip injections and bone resetting” contributes only 10%, then I think future shows really should concentrate on the former – perhaps a new tie would be more preferable to a car battery attached to the face with bulldog clips.

*In a reversal of the usual meme flow, as we humbly like to imagine on FT, a Guardian reviewer did point out the distance thing