Blatant plug for handsome boyfriend's film 7/3/2011

Morning all,

With apologies for the nepotism, my boyfriend's film 23 Week Babies is on BBC2 this Weds at 9pm. Trailer here. The poor lad spent six traumatic months filming this extremely controversial doc: his idea of a hot date is waking me at 7am on a Saturday morning, thrusting a microphone into my hand and dragging me to the neonatal ward in Birmingham to record the sound (as he films) of a doctor trying and failing to resuscitate an extremely premature baby using two-fingered CPR (as opposed to the full-on two-hands-to-the-chest version we see in movies). That scene is probably the most traumatic in the film.

"23 Week Babies" grapples with the question of whether it's right to resuscitate babies born in the 23 week of pregnancy - four months early - given that 91 out of 100 die in the first few weeks. And of the 9 who survive, 8 will be disabled to a greater or lesser extent, and only 1 will survive to adulthood in full health. Adam's film follows people on each side of the argument, the most compelling of whom, I find, is a 21-year-old woman called Heather who was the miracle survivor back in the day, but who is paraplegic and seriously struggling with her transition to adulthood. We were in Cardiff yesterday morning as Heather and my curly headed darling argued their case on BBC1's Sunday morning debate show, The Big Questions.

Handsome, eh?

Since then, it's all kicked off: the film was chosen as Pick of the Day in every Sunday newspaper, the Daily Mail ran a big piece this morning, there were debates on Women's Hour, Victoria Derbyshire and Jeremy Vine's radio shows and Adam and Heather will be on This Morning on ITV tomorrow morning at 10.30am. It's also getting extremely feisty on twitter: search for #23weekbabies or follow Adam on adamswishart.

The star of the film explains why she thinks that, if society chooses to keep babies like her alive, then they should also support them properly throughout their lives

Meanwhile, the 10:10 team have made the coolest map showing all the 10:10 action happening round the UK. If your carbon cutting adventures are not on there, please do add them.

In other news, I mentioned on the last message that Pete Postlethwaite's family have launched a fund for struggling acting students at Pete's old drama school, the Bristol Old Vic. It's worth checking out the website just to see the comments left by people donating to the fund in honour of Pete's performance in Age of Stupid. Aw.

I was also on about some new research on the last message. A PhD student at Edinburgh Uni attempted to answer the question: does watching Age of Stupid make the blindest bit of difference to people's behaviour? I said that her paper is well worth a read, but that I'm not quite sure what conclusion we've supposed to conclude. Luckily we now have the/an answer, as research analyst Rowena Cave happened to be on the mailing list and has written in to explain. See below. Thanks Rowena.

If you do manage to tune in to Adam's programme on BBC2 this Weds night at 9pm, make sure to have your hankies at the ready. The host of the debate show on Sunday, Nicky Campbell, said he was crying from the nine minute mark right through to the end, but I reckon he was a late starter, as I was blubbing from two minutes in.

Best wishes,

Hi Franny,
re your comment in the mail-out: I am a research analyst and I can answer you. I thought I should, as I know how research can be misused to support negativity, and just in case.... Basically, you can't really conclude anything about the effectiveness of your (wonderful, moving, shocking) film from this research. To do so robustly would require comparison with a control group who had not seen the film, but were otherwise matched for socio-economic status, political beliefs, prior knowledge and action, etc.

Ideally any research would measure intensity of conviction, too, both immediately on seeing the film and with a longer-term follow-up. If one wanted to measure the effect in terms of behaviour change in the strongest fashion, you would need a large group of people who have not seen the film, divided into two groups matched as above, then show one lot the film and show the other lot another film - a documentary of some sort but not about climate change. Then measure their response immediately after the films and with a longer-term follow-up, comparing the results with those obtained before seeing the films.

I know this is a bit pedantic, but that's the nature of such things. With behaviour change, it needs reinforcing regularly: people need to get reward for the new behaviour or they will slip back. Sad but true! The film is part of a broader movement, and people are highly resistant to change. My gut feeling is that, if measured properly, you would find it did make a difference to people who were previously unaware of the problem, but that it needs to be followed up with some sort of reinforcement to make any difference stick.

keep going!
Rowena Cave

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