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Embarrassing Bodies | Interview with Dr Jane Leonard

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Tell us a little bit about you…?

I am based in London, but I’m from St Helens. I’m a GP by background, but I also do cosmetic medicine. I split my time between being a GP, working in medical aesthetics and teaching on the side.

Embarrassing Bodies – how exciting is it to be part of the reboot of this iconic series?

Honestly, it is a dream come true. I remember the show, I remember watching it and the message it brings forward. As much as there is a shock value and we are talking about things that are deemed embarrassing, there is a really important message behind this show. I think as we are starting to come out of covid, particularly as I’m a doctor who works in Covid, that it is still now a barrier to people seeking medical attention for other medical issues, I think it’s a good time for people to start talking again – as those other medical issues haven’t gone away.

Tell us what your expertise will bring to the panel of medical professionals?

I focus a lot on skin. It goes hand-in-hand with the medical aesthetics I’ve been doing for over ten years. The things I’m passionate about are treating skin conditions like acne, psoriasis and eczema. Those conditions are chronic conditions and people who suffer from them aren’t educated in what causes them. That is why it causes such distress on a physical and emotional level. It is your skin that everyone is sees and it effects your confidence.

Embarrassing Bodies is known for having its shocking moments, what can viewers expect from this series?

I think so yes! When we are filming, we’re just doing our normal job. For us, I think that is the message I want to hammer home. You’re never going to shock us. That is important for people at home to see. There is also stuff that is embarrassing, but these things are what people have been suffering with and it has been affecting their quality of life.

So does anything shock you then?

I think the only thing that shocks me is how long people put up with things. Some of the problems people experience, it really limits their life. I once had a patient who left something for 35 years. That is what shocks me.

The series is also known for its tough moments too, how is it navigating those more difficult conversations?

I think it is giving people space, so they feel safe to talk about it. Giving them recognition for the fact they’ve come in to see us. It’s all about supporting them, respecting their problem and to give them the space where they aren’t going to be judged.

Tell us what is different from the original run of Embarrassing Bodies?

This one is a bit more real and relatable. As a team of doctors, we’re all quite different people. We’ve got different specialties. We’re also different as people, so we’ve got different styles of consulting. I think it’s important that people are seeing us doing what we do on our day to day lives. There are things that are also not just about illness, but health and wellness. This series is less doctor led and more patient led.

There have also been some celebrity VTs throughout the series, what can you tell us about them?

It has been really great. I’ve done a VT about smear tests. Another about Health tourism where people go abroad to get enhancements and don’t know about the risks behind it. There was another one about comparison culture and social media. They all had big celebs attached which has been great to work on.

What do you hope viewers can take away from this series?

I really hope it increases awareness about medical conditions and people taking care of themselves and their physical and mental health. Being aware of the risk factors of medical conditions and that from the doctor side, we are people too. We are normal people, and this happens to be our job and we are here to help. We want to see you. We want you to come in.

What are your top tips for encouraging young people to visit their GP if they have an issue?

I think that the issue you are worried about is personal to you but from the doctors point of view, every single person on our list is feeling in the same boat. We are well versed in putting people at ease, giving you space to speak and we’re not going to be shocked by what you have to say. Whatever you’re coming with, if it is bothering you and is making you unwell or affecting your quality of life, then you should come and see us.

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