Doug Coutts’ TV Preview: Supersize – Saving Britain’s 70 Stone Man

TV Preview: Supersize – Saving Britain’s 70 Stone Man | TV3, 9.30 Thursday


By Doug Coutts

Saving Britain’s 70 Stone Man is hard work, for his carers and us viewers. As you’d expect, there’s an awful lot of Keith Martin, and not much of it fits under the duvet of the bed in which he spends most of his time.

Keith took to over-eating in his teens as some sort of coping mechanism after the death of his mum, and excelled at it – when we first meet him he’s weighing in at 440kg and struggles to roll over in bed. Sitting up is almost beyond him in fact.

He’s looked after by his sister. She also has fulltime care of their younger sister, who is intellectually disabled and doesn’t appear on camera.

Keith has decided, after all this time, he doesn’t want to be a burden on his sister and also wants to get up out of bed. To achieve that, he’s got to shed some tonnage and stomach stapling is the only option. But first he’s got to shed some tonnage so they can get him out of the house, and he’s also got to stand up – the medical risks are huge and the doctors need to seem some improvement in his fitness levels.

Over a year, Keith does manage to shed a huge amount – 25 stone (160kg) or the combined weight of Phil Wakefield and a full set of golf clubs [ed’s note: and they’re steel, not graphite!]  – but hasn’t managed to stand.

It’s not for want of trying, although that actually might be the issue – through all the interviews, Keith is happy to discuss how much he wants to improve his lot but we don’t see him ever doing any sort of movement unless he’s compelled to by a professional. That might be less his fault than the editor’s desire to build up the jeopardy, though.

Saving Britain’s 70 Stone Man is likely to cause mixed feelings. On the one hand, Keith’s the author of his own misfortune yet expects everyone else to sort it out, while on the other, that’s pretty much what everyone else expects when they tumble drunkenly in front of a Hataitai bus or break an arm abseiling in National Park. We look after each other – that’s part of being in a caring society. (The other part of being in that kind of society is that someone gets to film it and make a reality series.)

Eventually, he’s carted off to hospital for the operation, the outcome of which is held over to the following week. Don’t be tempted to Google though – it gets a bit sad from here on.

Doug Coutts has had a career in and around television for close to 40 years. He spent 13 years as a floor manager at Avalon Studios before going freelance and never earning as much again. His writing has spanned TV genres — from Shortland Street dialoguery and quiz shows to documentaries and comedy — while a lengthy stint as TV reviewer in the Auckland Star earned him two mentions in Metro magazine’s Hot List and an angry letter from Jon Gadsby. You can read more of Doug (the satirist) at:
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