Geordie Shore is 'one long advert for drinking', say health researchers

Picture by Ian West/PA Wire
Picture by Ian West/PA Wire

Almost 80% of scenes throughout season 11 of MTV's reality show Geordie Shore contain alcohol content or alcohol use, a study has found.

The authors behind the paper are calling for more to be done to protect young viewers from alcohol imagery, including a potential review of age classification policy for the programme.

Researchers from the universities of Bath and Nottingham analysed seven hours of footage over 10 episodes of season 11 from the show.

They found 78% of scenes contained alcohol content, 30% featured alcohol use, 72% had inferred alcohol use and 59% of other scenes contained other alcohol references.

Alcohol brands occurred in 23% of all scenes, with Smirnoff featuring in 43% of brand appearances.

More than 60% of brand appearances happened in episodes which, when released on DVD, were classified as suitable for viewing by people under the age of 18.

Lead researcher Dr Jo Cranwell, from the University of Bath's Department for Health, said: "We expected to find alcohol content across series 11 of Geordie Shore but not at such high levels, or the prominence of particular brands.

"Given MTV's target audience can be as young as 12, this really is a concern and runs counter to a raft of public health measures currently designed to curb the excesses in drinking among young people, and counter to the policies of the companies which market these brands with respect to advertising to children."

Action needs to be taken following the findings of the study, published in the journal Alcohol & Alcoholism, the researchers say.

This is due to the "potentially young target audience for Geordie Shore, the wide reach of MTV, and evidence that media exposure to alcohol promotes alcohol consumption by young people", they suggest.

The findings will be raised with Lime Pictures - the production company behind Geordie Shore - as well as MTV, Ofcom and the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

There should be clearer alcohol warnings at the start of Geordie Shore episodes, the removal of all branding and adult age classifications for programmes released on DVD, the researchers say.

"We would be interested to hear from MTV about how many under 18s are watching Geordie Shore and if they are prepared to moderate the amount of drinking in it," Dr Cranwell said.

"At the very least the drinks industry has a duty of care not to expose those under the legal drinking age in the UK to their brands.

"Codes of practice are of course already in place by many companies not to associate their brands with excessive drinking or drunkenness.

"Whilst it may be the case that they are not aware of the amount of visible branded content in Geordie Shore, we believe that they absolutely should be and we will follow carefully their response to our findings."

The study formed part of a wider programme of research exploring alcohol content in a range of media, such as in film and music videos.

It was supported by the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, with core funding from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, and the Department of Health under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration

Professor John Britton, from the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham, said: "From a health perspective, this series of programmes represent one long advert for drinking in general, and for Smirnoff, Grey Goose and Corona in particular, for a teenage and young adult audience.

"I am surprised that the companies that market these brands are happy for their products to be promoted in this way."