Now TV contestants face water torture in most sickening reality show yet
By Liz Thomas
Last updated at 7:38 AM on 06th October 2008
A reality television show has been accused of crossing the line from entertainment to sadism.
In Channel 5's Unbreakable the contestants are buried alive, trapped in a tent full of CS gas and must wade through piranha-infested water.
They are also subjected to waterboarding.
This involves being tied down on a board, tilted back and having water poured over the face, which recreates the experience of drowning.
One of the volunteers was so traumatised they had convulsions on the first day of filming. Another ran away into the African bush and had to be found with tracker dogs.
Critics say the content is simply 'unacceptable'.
John Whittingdale, Tory chairman of the media select committee, said: 'You have to ask, where is it going to end?
'It seems that scenes of torture are being used as entertainment. What next? Reality contestants having electric shock treatment? There is a point where such things should not be shown on television.'
The motto for Unbreakable, which starts on Five tonight, is Pain is Glory, Pain is Pride, Pain is Great to Watch.
The eight volunteers include a musician, a 20-year-old female bouncer and a personal trainer.
In another test, their hands and feet are bound and they are dumped in a 15ft tank of water and forced to leap up and down for air.
The presenter, explorer Benedict Allen, admitted that he was concerned about their safety and state of mind.
He said: 'We knew we couldn't afford to kill anyone but yes, there were times when I was seriously worried. It got pretty hairy.
'Two hours into filming on the first day, one of the contestants collapsed on the floor and suffered convulsions. We were stuck in the depths of jungle in Guyana and we had to get him out. It didn't start well.'
A source on the show added: 'One of the contestants was in such a state he tried to run away into the middle of the African bush, and we had to use tracker dogs to find him.'
John Beyer, director of lobby group Mediawatch UK, said: 'Ofcom's Broadcasting Code states that programmes should not include material that is harmful and/or offensive. This programme could well be in breach of the code.
'Waterboarding is a form of torture that I believe is illegal under international law and so should not feature in any programme merely as a form of entertainment.
'We hope very much that Ofcom will be monitoring this series and taking whatever action is appropriate.'
A Five spokesman said: 'All the participants in Unbreakable were aware of the type of the challenges they would face prior to filming.'
The spokesman added that all tests were supervised by experts and that volunteers had mental and physical assessments before the show.'
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