Friday 20 September 2019

Overshadowed producer Kay Mellor fears ‘anorexia epidemic’

Mellor has co-created a TV show charting a young woman’s struggles with the eating disorder.

Kay Mellor
Kay Mellor

By Julia Hunt, Press Association

Kay Mellor has warned that the UK is facing an “anorexia epidemic” after making a television series about eating disorders.

The TV writer’s production company is behind eight-part BBC3 drama Overshadowed, which charts a young woman’s struggles with the illness.

Mellor told RadioTimes.com: “I think it’s an epidemic going to happen, I really do.”

She said her research for Overshadowed convinced her of the dangers.

Mellor said: “I think it will be due to the backlash to obesity, to be honest with you.

“I think we are on the brink of an epidemic of anorexia. I am seeing more and more young girls on diets or watching what they eat.

“That’s how it starts. You have to be so careful managing body image and diet, you really do.

“My worry is they get it from the media and from airbrushing. Automatically photoshoots are airbrushed. Models are automatically airbrushed. Once upon a time that was laughable; now it’s the norm.

“We’re striving to get to this ‘perfect size’ that doesn’t exist.”

Overshadowed follows an Irish vlogger called Imogene (Michelle Fox) whose life spirals out of control when she meets “the monster of anorexia personified”, presented in the drama as her friend Anna. Co-writer Eva O’Connor plays Anna, who is only seen by Imogene.

O’Connor herself struggled with anorexia and Overshadowed is based on her stage play of the same name.

Mellor said: “When I first spoke to Eva she told me it was an insidious disease; it creeps up on you. It was creepy, it really touched a nerve when I saw the stage play.”

She added: “Eva’s message – our message – is, ‘Don’t mess about with your body and your food intake.’

“As a mother, be careful what you say to your kids. Because that’s in it too.

“If you have got a problem, seek help and this can be fought. Eva is living proof of that. If you get help soon enough you can fight this. There are experts out there who understand anorexia.”

Mellor said Overshadowed is a “companion piece” to her ITV series Fat Friends, which examined life in a Leeds dieting club and aired between 2000 and 2005.

“Fat Friends was body image in a different way,” she said. “It is a companion piece. The message I am trying to send out is love who you are; don’t be obsessed with what people say to you about what you should look like. There is more misery around being fat than anything else.

“It’s like cancer; it’s an insidious disease.”

Mellor visited a diet club when she was researching for Fat Friends and said, although she was happy with her own appearance, she was told she was two-and-a-half-stone overweight.

She said: “I was in my early 40s and I was told I had to be 9 stone 1. The last time I weighted that I was 15! I didn’t want to be 9 stone 1. I would have looked shocking. I would have looked like I was going to peg out.”

Overshadowed is available on BBC3 in box-set format from October 1.

PA Media

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