Cater's Choice

Nick Cater's weekly media round-up.

Nick Cater
Nick Cater


Positive or prurient? That is the debate often heard over the more extreme television documentaries.

Channel 4's recent Bodyshock Special: The Girl With Eight Limbs (available at was the media equivalent of a circus freakshow, about an Indian child born with a part-formed conjoined twin. Luckily, as C4 noted without irony, a place at a school for disabled children "removes her from the public gaze". By contrast, Five tonight has Extraordinary People: Hope for Hayley about nine-year-old Hayley Okines and how the premature ageing disease progeria makes her body resemble that of a 70-year-old. This is the third Five show on Hayley and her family, suggesting that these film-makers are treading a more careful line in explaining the disease, including a potentially life-saving treatment.


We know people can be altruistic - but which people are more generous: the poor or the rich? Exploring this are two fascinating experiments - one on radio for laughs, the other just begun in earnest reality - that ask complete strangers to give without reward. On BBC Radio 4 today (also on the BBC's listen-again service), Three Men In A Float has a humorous trio trundling a milk float from Lowestoft to Land's End at a speed of 15mph, successfully asking for assistance as they go. Meanwhile 'community pilgrim' Saoirse - a former organic food boss - is several weeks into a 12,000km, two-year walk to India, during which he will carry no money and will ask people to give him food and shelter. Read his story at


Interesting to see media expert Bryan Miller warning charities that, although the web is most clearly part of every charity's future, sudden individual fads such as Facebook may not be the sole next big thing (Third Sector, 13 February). Indeed, The Daily Telegraph observed last month that the gloss is coming off Second Life, Friends Reunited and Facebook. Facebook's problems included its privacy-invading Beacon monitoring system, but there are deeper issues, as The Guardian highlighted when it took a look at its backers and their neocon views, which charities and causes may find disquieting. Well worth a look at

- Contact Nick Cater at

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