Broadcasters that sugar-coat ethically dubious programmes leave Delissa Needham with a sour taste.
Broadcasters that sugar-coat ethically dubious programmes leave Delissa Needham with a sour taste.

TV: an open sewer with junk flowing down it, and just when you think it's safe to sit down again somebody chucks in an old supermarket trolley - or in this case an old pram and some dirty nappies. Yep, it's The Baby Borrowers. A TV show with questionable ethics sugar-coated in phrases like 'an important social experiment' and 'will speak to teenagers'.

How much longer can producers and broadcasters go on fending off objections from the press, Ofcom and the public with words such as 'informative' or 'educational'? Don't get me wrong: I don't give a toss about programming like Channel 4's upcoming Wank Week - pull back the duvet and let's all look at the stains on the sheets. Let's face it, we know the equation goes like this - broadcasters want product that entertains, commissioning editors want viewing figures and producers want commissions. All TV is first and foremost about entertainment.

The nappy-clad bottom line on The Baby Borrowersis that adorable rug rats are being handed over by parents so you and I can be entertained. It's nice to think that parents are queuing up to raise the debate on teenage pregnancy. I'd hate to think it has anything to do with our celebrity-obsessed society and an unhealthy appetite to be on telly.

TV does have power and can use it to good effect as Jamie Oliver did with his school dinners campaign. But, as a nation, the issues surrounding our sexual habits are even more serious than our children's eating habits. We have among the highest rates of teenage pregnancy, divorce and rape in Europe - and some of the tightest censorship laws. I'm glad of anything that highlights that something must be done. But it's not TV's job to do the government's work. And to hope that a programme like this might put kids off reckless shagging is like hoping you'll curb smoking by showing an old man coughing. What's more, if The Baby Borrowershopes to achieve more than entertainment, then put it on when the right viewers will see it. Scheduling it on BBC3 at 10.30pm is as useless as handing out leaflets in a tide of kids after the school bell has gone.

To justify programmes like The Baby Borrowerswe need to know that the broadcasters' role doesn't end when the credits roll. Yes, TV can raise the debate but it also has to have the ability to maintain it. Producer and broadcaster must have a shared responsibility to follow through with the issues raised and to continue supporting the campaign. There are programmes that set out with questionable ethics yet succeed beyond viewing figures. The BBC's Find a Family- a kids version of Pet Rescue- may have been tasteless, but it sparked off 5,000 adoptions.

Personally I wouldn't lend my dog out for entertainment, let alone a baby. But then he's a small farting terrier and I have a feeling he'd be handed back pretty quick.
Delissa Needham is an executive producer at Unicorn TV