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Lured by the Yuck Factor...

As I walk into the studio to meet Dr Christian Jessen, I spot him posing for the camera in a white coat, pretending to inspect the armpit of a male model.

Later he is joined by his fellow Embarrassing Bodies doctors Dawn Harper and Pixie McKenna and the three of them loom over the camera as if carrying out an examination.

"I love seeing adverts for the programme in the magazines the week before it starts," says Jessen. Though he enjoys the theatrics of the photo shoot, the 32-year-old is serious about the Channel 4 medical programme, in which the doctors treat people for all those conditions we don't like to talk about, such as bad breath, baldness and bedwetting.

"It educates without you realising it's educating you," he says.

"You come away knowing slightly more about a condition that you'd never heard of, and that's something I'm really proud of. I think people like it for that reason, and if you do have one of these conditions, or your mother does or a friend does, you start to learn about it and I hope you realise there's a bit of hope and something could be done."



CONFESSIONS

Those who have seen the programme will admit that there is a certain kind of sick pleasure derived from hearing the confessions of the real patients.

Dr Jessen agrees: "I'm not stupid. I fully appreciate the fact that people are slightly titillated by images of body parts. There is a certain 'yuck' factor and I would be lying to say I didn't look at a certain condition and think, 'Golly, that's terrible'. Of course I do. It's a human reaction but I think that's why people watch it, they like that element to it."

In a starched white coat, Jessen certainly looks the part, and with his numerous qualifications and gentle bedside manner he's an ideal TV doctor.

Both in his normal work as a sexual health specialist and on TV, he is careful to be sensitive to his patients -- which could explain why people were lining up to be featured on this series, despite the public humiliation it might entail.

"I thought people would say, 'I don't want this done on telly', but actually people really do. They see how they are treated, we try to treat them as normally as possible, we don't make a joke of them, we don't trivialise their condition."

The doctor says it frustrates him that people don't go to see their GPs when they first spot a problem. He explains: "I think it's fear, I think people are scared of getting bad news, they're scared of being told, 'Actually this is something more serious than just a little mole'. The word cancer terrifies people so there's a certain ostrich effect of burying your head in the sand, particularly with men."

During his career he's seen some shocking conditions, he says, but nothing alarms him more than the public's naivety about basic health and hygiene.

Unsurprisingly for a sexual health specialist -- and a half Danish one at that -- he thinks we need to be more open about sex.

Normal

He says: "We just need to pull our finger out and have a more mature attitude towards sex and less of the giggly, school boy attitude.

"If you introduce the idea of sex being a normal, pleasurable thing from a young age as they do in Europe it will become a much more normal thing to talk about."

On top of Embarrassing Bodies, he is busy with the next series of Supersize Vs Superskinny -- and with helping random strangers with their health questions.

"If I'm having dinner with somebody I'll always, always get asked something, if not by the waiter then by a member of the public who wants to know something. I don't mind," he says cheerily.

The third series of Embarrassing Bodies begins tomorrow on Channel 4


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