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FEATURE


Louise Naughton Reporter, Nursing in Practice


Interview: Dr Christian Jessen


The presenter of Embarrassing Bodies and Supersize vs Superskinny talks cameras, champagne corks, and the heady world of celebrity


D


r Christian Jessen is usually found inspecting dodgy rashes, unsightly growths and unusual genitals on his show Embarrassing Bodies. Unless you have been on Mars for the past fi ve years, you will know the show makes even the most


experienced and hardened nurse wince and turn away in horror.


The impossibly handsome and witty


presenter has momentarily taken time out to chat to Nursing in Practice about all things weird and wonderful. It is clear why Dr Jessen has become


a media darling over the past fi ve years – it is because he is so wonderfully nice of course. He is able to talk to his patients in an adult, no-nonsense, direct way while still retaining his wit and charm. Remarkably, however, if it were not for a


‘You have to remember that for you it is patient number 48 in a very long day, but you are nurse number one in a very big life event’


particularly ‘telly-unfriendly’ Professor wheeling him out in front of the camera to talk about rising chlamydia rates, Dr Jessen would still be your normal jobbing doctor. “I got into all this completely by accident. I had never consid-


ered becoming a TV doctor. But the media world is quite small, so when they see you can string a sentence together and aren’t too camera shy, they will whore your name around,” he says.


Thanks to such ‘whoring’, Dr Jessen was an overnight success. He was offered show after show and he kept on saying yes.


“I cannot say there was any great skill on my part that any of this has happened, it has completely been down to other people telling me to do stuff,” he says. The public reaction to Embarrassing Bodies soon turned his perception of his media work from “just a job” and a “bit of a laugh” to recognising what a well-valued and much needed role it really was.


He tells me he “always had a problem


with doctors”, believing them to be not very good at engaging and educating the public on public health issues outside of a one-to-one setting.


In a somewhat defi ant tone, Dr Jessen says: “[My media work] is as valid a medical job as any other and I quickly decided I was going to enjoy it and make the most of it.”


While he is extremely proud of his work on Embarrass-


ing Bodies, he fi nds the world of celebrity “very odd and silly” and understands why a lot of nurses and doctors alike hate – his words - TV doctors. “I fi nd it disturbing that many people believe that just


because you are on TV you are amazing and the best of the best – I hate that aspect and I’m sure that’s why a lot of the medical profession hate us TV doctors,” he acknowledges in his own self-deprecating way. Dr Jessen balances his presenting work with two days a week


in a London-based sexual health clinic, something he says several TV doctors make a mistake and compromise their credibility by failing to do. Mind you, patients must get quite a shock when they see Dr Jessen sitting at his desk.


16 Nursing in Practice March/April 2012


www.nursinginpractice.com


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