Broadcaster interrupts news, sport and drama with mental health messages

Presenters and actors on the U.K.'s ITV addressed viewers on topics of negative news, abortion and more

Published On
Aug 04, 2022

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Viewers of U.K. broadcaster ITV last week saw news and sports presenters and actors "breaking the fourth wall" at the beginning or ends of shows and addressing them directly on topics such as negative news, abortion and more.

As part of its current crusade to address the growing teen anxiety crisis, the interruptions were engineered by ITV's "Britain Get Talking" campaign and agency Uncommon. Following its short film "The Break Through," which depicted a father trying to get through to his anxious daughter, the campaign continued with presenters aiming to "break through" themselves.

All the talent was filmed on the same sets and in the same clothes to get the feel of a continuation of events. For example, in one segment, at the end of ITV's evening news bulletin, presenter Lucrezia Millarini walked toward the camera taking off her microphone. She then appeared against greenscreen and spoke to viewers directly. "There's a lot of heavy stuff going on in the world right now," she said, urging viewers to "keep talking."

Just after the end of an episode of soap opera "Emmerdale," which featured a harrowing abortion story line, actor Daisy Campbell addressed viewers directly saying that "Abortion is...a difficult subject. Especially at the moment, it can bring up a lot of heavy feelings."

 

Another moment featured sports presenter Laura Woods encouraging families to "get talking to young people" as they tuned in for a soccer match. "We all feel the weight of expectation from the people around us," she said.

 

According to research by the campaign, which is supported by mental health charities Mind, Young Minds and the Scottish Association for Mental Health, it has already resulted in people having 100 million new or meaningful conversations about mental health since its launch in 2019.