Page last updated at 15:55 GMT, Friday, 22 August 2008 16:55 UK

C4 children's reality show rapped

A TV show where a group of children are left in a house unsupervised has been criticised as "voyeuristic and low grade entertainment".

Channel 4 has billed Boys and Girls Alone as a "fascinating look" at gender differences, and denied they had created a mini Big Brother.

Ten boys and ten girls aged eight to 11 spent two weeks living in separate cottages in Cornwall.

David Davis MP said the show, to be aired in November, was "appalling".

The Conservative MP said: "Given how hard adults find it to cope with a series like Big Brother, to put children in that environment is asking for trouble. There's a danger this could leave children traumatised."

'Better world'

The children were told to cook and clean for themselves, make their own sleeping arrangements, and decide how to spend their money.

The children's parents were able to watch their offspring on CCTV.

Channel 4 said the purpose of the fly-on-the-wall documentaries was to see whether the boys or girls "will build a better world".

"The parents thought it was an incredibly positive experience for their kids to go through. We were taking them away for two weeks so they were highly monitored," said Andrew Mackenzie, Channel 4's head of factual entertainment.

"We wanted to see what happens if the parents were not there.

"You are just left with this positive feeling that these kids are wonderful. We've got this generation here of brilliant kids. If they're let loose they're brilliant.

"The safety of the kids was absolutely paramount. There were security guards, chaperones, production staff and CCTV for the parents."

'Very deluded'

But Andrew Hibberd, director of pressure group the Parent Organisation, said children risked being bullied by their classmates as a result of appearing on the series.

He said: "If it's intended to be educational then it's a good thing but I don't think it will be.

"I'm sure the programme will serve no useful purpose and will simply be voyeuristic and low grade entertainment."

Claude Knights, director of charity Kidscape, said: "When Big Brother first came on the scene we were told it was an observational documentary and we would obtain psychological data, that it would be a step forward in finding out about relationships.

"You have to be really very deluded to think that we're getting that from it now."

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