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CHRISTOPHER STEVENS on last night’s TV: Scary Mrs Thatcher, shrooms and a very Nutty theory on drugs

The Psychedelic Drug Trial 

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A Very Royal Baby: From Cradle to Crown 

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When parents tell stories to scare their children into being good, they conjure up the bogeyman and the big bad wolf.

When BBC2 wants to frighten viewers, it shows us clips of Mrs Thatcher. Listen to what we’re telling you, is the threat — or Maggie will get you. 

Mrs T popped up like a wicked stepmother in The Psychedelic Drug Trial (BBC2), in her trademark blue suit, to inspect a haul of illegal narcotics.

In case we weren’t already petrified, another clip had U.S. President Richard Nixon declaring that illegal drugs were the greatest scourge America faced.

Mrs Thatcher popped up like a wicked stepmother in The Psychedelic Drug Trial (BBC2), in her trademark blue suit, to inspect a haul of illegal narcotics

Mrs Thatcher popped up like a wicked stepmother in The Psychedelic Drug Trial (BBC2), in her trademark blue suit, to inspect a haul of illegal narcotics

An advocate of mind-altering drugs to treat depression, Prof Nutt claimed: 'The criminalisation and the banning of psychedelics is the worst censorship of research in the history of the world

An advocate of mind-altering drugs to treat depression, Prof Nutt claimed: ‘The criminalisation and the banning of psychedelics is the worst censorship of research in the history of the world

To chase away these demons, all hail Professor David Nutt of Imperial College London — the man dismissed as the Government’s chief drugs adviser in 2009, after he said cannabis and ecstasy were less harmful than alcohol or cigarettes.

The aptly named Prof Nutt is fond of sweeping statements. 

An advocate of mind-altering drugs to treat depression, he claimed: ‘The criminalisation and the banning of psychedelics is the worst censorship of research — not just medical research — in the history of the world.’

Censorship’s history does include awkward episodes such as the mass murder of scientists in the pre-war Soviet Union and the outlawing of literacy in Seventies Cambodia. 

Perhaps Prof Nutt believes Mrs Thatcher and President Nixon were worse tyrants than Stalin and Pol Pot. The BBC seems to.

Professor David Nutt hopes that two doses of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, can rewire the brain and alleviate depressive symptoms

Professor David Nutt hopes that two doses of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, can rewire the brain and alleviate depressive symptoms

The Prof hopes that two doses of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, can rewire the brain and alleviate depressive symptoms. 

This one-off documentary followed a small-scale trial in which patients were given the drug.

This treatment was touted as a potential breakthrough, compared to anti-depressants. 

Little was said about the potentially devastating side-effects, apart from a comment that psychedelic drugs should not be given to people with a family history of psychosis.

I am not convinced, though, that it is fair or wise to ask profoundly depressed people to decide whether they want to take wild risks with their fragile mental health. 

One, a nurse named Ali who was grieving after her closest friend killed herself, said if the psilocybin experiment didn’t work, she would consider ending her own life.

Another, an artist named Nadine, was angry and disappointed to realise she’d been given a placebo instead of the real drug. 

I’m not in a great place and this makes me feel even worse,’ she said. All this was accompanied with graphics that seemed to be lifted from a Pink Floyd music video.

There may be benefits to psychedelics, but glamorising and politicising this research is neither safe nor responsible.

Prof Nutt’s fondness for hyperbolic statements is shared by historian Dr Onyeka Nubia. 

Omid Scobie, obsequious biographer to the Sussexes, obviously wanted to say something interesting, and couldn’t in A Very Royal Baby: From Cradle To Crown (C4)

Omid Scobie, obsequious biographer to the Sussexes, obviously wanted to say something interesting, and couldn’t in A Very Royal Baby: From Cradle To Crown (C4)

The history doc declared, in A Very Royal Baby: From Cradle To Crown (C4), that ‘the Queen Mother’s body was owned by the state’ when she gave birth to Princess Elizabeth in 1926. 

Still, someone had to say something to enliven this weightless froth about the forthcoming birth of Meghan and Harry’s second child — the first royal, we were told, who could also become U.S. President.

Omid Scobie, obsequious biographer to the Sussexes, obviously wanted to say something interesting, and couldn’t.

Talking about the secrecy surrounding Archie’s christening in 2019, he hinted: ‘If one of those godparents is Oprah, and I’m not saying that she is, then you can understand why perhaps they may want to keep that to themselves.’

Righto. Nod and a wink, message received.


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