Daisy Donovan watches as Brazilians bare all

  • Channel 4

Britain has always enjoyed laughing at foreign TV. Whether Clive James and his vaguely racist shock at Japanese game-shows or Chris Tarrant's tired jibes at foreigners, sneering at overseas broadcasting has always been a cheap scehdule-filler.

Don't expect anything much more elevating from Daisy Donovan's Channel 4 series The Greatest Shows On Earth, in which the comedian runs through her gamut of expressions, from appalled, through intrigued to titillated, while witnessing what foreign people find entertaining.

We start in Brazil, one of the world's largest countries with a vibrant economy and a rich culture. Donovan hones in on, from Channel 4's perspective, the very heart of that Brazilian culture, the Miss Bum Bum competition. As the name hints, this is a contest for the nation's most beautiful, or at least most astounding buttocks. In brief it's an opportunity for Channel 4, the home of prurient documentaries, to fill the screen with vast acres of pristine Brazilian rears while excusing it all with Donovan's sardonic commentary.

"It was non-stop buttocks in my face," Donovan told TV magazine. "As a woman, all you're thinking is, 'I need to get in the gym.' Whereas we’re all Page 3 in the UK, they’re about the bums first, then if you need the boobs done, you get them next. There’s a lot of plastic surgery. They have whole shows dedicated to measuring the bum."

Donovan preferred to remain in the role of observer rather than participant. "I had a really surreal meeting where everyone was saying I had to take part in the bottom competition. That’s not something even I want to look at. It all seems harmless fun, but then the winners bring out the killer sexual moves and start grinding on the floor. It made me feel quite sick. It’s really awkward."

But well worth an hour of Channel 4 primetime to pull in those voyeurs. No channel ever went bust overestimating its audience's tolerance of Brazilian buttocks.

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