Channel 4 courts controversy with live exorcism show

LONDON – Channel 4 has come under fire from TV watchdogs and religious groups for planning to screen a live exorcism at the end of the month.

A man who claims he is possessed by evil spirits will be wired up to neuro-imaging technology that will monitor the activity throughout the exorcism.

The exorcism will be performed by an Anglican priest, who has said he has performed the process "for many years".

A group of leading scientists and theologians will discuss the significance of the experiment.

Some religious group and media watchdogs have criticised Channel 4 over the show, saying it gives credence to superstition and will encourage others to blame their psychological illnesses on evil spirits.

Channel 4 has also been accused of exploiting and taking advantage of a vulnerable person for the purposes of entertainment.

The Exorcism, presented by newsreader Krishnan Guru-Murthy, is due to be broadcast on February 25.

The channel aims to dispel the popular myth of exorcism as portrayed in the cult 1973 film The Exorcist, in which a young girl is posessed by demons.

A Channel 4 spokeperson defended the programme, saying: "Every diocese of the Church of England still has access to an exorcist and, surprisingly, exorcism is considered by some psychiatrists to have positive therapeutic benefits in certain situations."

Channel 4 is notorious for screening controversial programming. Last year Derren Brown's live seance provoked more than 700 viewer complaints.

The channel has also screened a live abortion, an autopsy and a decomposing corpse.

A BBC spoof Ghost Watch screened 13 years ago was blamed for the suicide of a Nottingham teenager.

The paranormal reality TV has become very popular, with LivingTV in particular carving out a niche in the genre.

"This sounds very dangerous and will cause considerable unease," said John Beyer of the watchdog Mediawatch.

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