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  I'm in TV's Fat Nation
Updated 21 October 2004, 11.17

BBC1's Fat Nation - the Big Challenge follows the progress of a street in Birmingham and their mission to improve their unhealthy lifestyles.

Week 9 - the last episode

Sarah picked up some top acting tips through taking part in the programme.

"I learnt that when you are answering questions in front of the camera, you should repeat the question, or include it in the answer.

Also if someone asks 'Do you like school?' for example, you shouldn't just say 'Yes,' but give a longer answer.

It's important to look relaxed and confident in front of the camera, even if you are nervous inside!

Having learnt these skills through being filmed for the programme, I'm now using them in a film at school where I play the part of a presenter.

I really enjoy drama and being on Fat Nation, the Big Challenge has really helped me.

Fave bits

My favourite part of the show was trampolining live on TV.

I enjoyed being in front of the camera, although I was a bit embarrassed and worried about looking stupid jumping up and down.

I think I was quite relaxed even though I knew I was on TV because I'd done a bit of trampolining beforehand, so it wasn't completely new to me.

I'm fitter

I found the most difficult part of the show was the assault course I did for Short Change right at the very beginning of the nine weeks. I wasn't as fit then as I am now.

I go to kick boxing twice a week and I also do PE at school or use the gym.

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

Loads of people from the street went to the after series party.

I wasn't there because I went to a bonfire night gathering with my friends.

But I heard from the people who went that it was really good.

They said that the presenter Matt started crying because he was so sad to leave and that set off loads of the residents.

If I had been there, I think I would have cried too. I'll really miss it all.

The street already feels empty. It will feel even more so on Thursday nights now that the live programme is no longer being filmed.

I have really enjoyed being part of it all.

Sarah, 15, Birmingham

Sarah tried out volleyball for the first time - which was not as easy as she thought!

"On Sunday, loads of people from the street went down to my school which is just round the corner.

Fat Nation, the Big Challenge organised an event so that residents could try out a sport they had never done before.

There was a choice of kick boxing, trampolining, volleyball, cricket, table tennis, football and some other sports.

My mum and I tried volleyball for the first time.


We were really uncoordinated. It was embarrassing!

I knocked a little girl over by mistake and accidentally hit a boy with the ball.

Mum knocked the ball into the back of the instructor's head!

It's really difficult to hit the ball accurately. It just seems to go everywhere.

We also had a go at kick boxing, trampolining and badminton.

I do kick boxing already, so I really enjoyed that.

There were two instructors from London. They held pads in their hand which I had to kick and punch.

They were really shocked that I could handle myself so well and they said that I should move up into an adults' class.


They also showed me some stretching exercises.

They said that if I kept them up I would be able to do the splits in three months time. I'm certainly going to try!

I used to go to kick boxing once a week but now I'm going to start going three times a week.

Trampoling was also fun. I've been doing it at school for about four weeks now.

But my mum hadn't used a trampoline for about 30 years and she really loved it.

Swivel hips

I can do a movement called 'swivel hips' but I'm not good enough yet to do a somersault.

I do quite a lot of exercise really, at least something every day.

I did kick boxing yesterday and went to the school gym at lunch time today.

Smoothie cycling

On Thursday I went to the live show.

They had a kind of exercise bike that had a fruit mixer on the top. By pedalling you could make a smoothie.

I didn't have a go because I don't like the pips."

Sarah, 14, Birmingham

Week 5

Sarah's getting used to celebs on her street now, but she reckons that could be a good thing for her own acting ambitions.

"On Thursday Dr Trueman from EastEnders dropped in on the Fat Nation street. I went out and hung about with my mates as the programme went out.

We saw Dr Trueman go into the studio and then we walked down to the playing field to see the life-size table football match.

It was a sort of bouncy castle with all the players joined up by sticks to make the teams. The TV people told us which bit to stand in and got us to cheer when the presenter James ran around some cones as part of his exercises.

I've learnt that there's a lot of waiting around when they make TV shows - it's not as amazing as I thought it was, it's more of a normal job really.

I'm not scared

Before Fat Nation, if I'd seen celebrities or people from TV on the street, I would have run up to them and screamed. Now I would just go up to them and say hello.

I'm interested in acting, because I like drama at school. Having Fat Nation on my street has given me more confidence

At school me and a friend are going to start going to the gym - that means my new weekly exercise programme will look like this:

Sarah's weekly exercise plan

2 X gym
1 X kickboxing
1 X netball
1 X trampolining
1 X another PE lesson

We will be busking again next Thursday. I've got a drum kit that I could put out in the front garden and I'll either play the drums or the mandolin - probably I will stick to the mandolin."

Sarah, 14, Birmingham

Week 4

Sarah bounces into the spotlight as she trampolines on the live show and gets a quick fitness tip from the show's expert.

"At the start of the week I got a call from the TV people saying I was going to be on Thursday's live show. They picked me because they knew I'd done stuff for Short Change.

The bit I was in had about 25 people in it, but I was one of the main three. That meant I was in the front row.

I was jumping on a trampoline while a boy on one side did a hula hoop. On the other side CBBC presenter Ortis held up a punch pad and another boy boxed with it.

Georgie the presenter came over to me and I got a special bit of advice from the F team's fitness person Efua Baker.

She told me that trampolining is good for endurance - and could help me because I had come last on the Short Change assault course.

I reckon I'll need more help with other things as well if I'm going to get really healthy.

On the Fat Nation street everyone's got used to having the TV people around. It's not a big deal for us anymore, but people who don't live on the street have tried to get on the show.

On Thursday one group of kids, who didn't live there, were hanging out on the street in the afternoon. They wanted to stay until the filming started so they could get on TV. Just before the programme started some of the residents pointed them out, and they got chucked out!

Cheeky - cheeky

My mum went along to the rounders game this week. There were people there from Eastenders and the Cheeky Girls were the cheerleaders!

The Cheekies sang and danced, a couple of people asked them for autographs but I don't know if they got them or not. The rounders was won by the greens.

Still busking

On Thursday we did some more busking to raise money for Birmingham Children's hospital. My Dad played guitar outside the bit where the TV people are based. I came out and played the mandolin with him and we made 50 in half an hour!"

Sarah, 14, Birmingham

Week 3

Sarah's busking to raise money for the hospital which saved her brother's life.

"Tomorrow (Wednesday) my dad and I are going to busk on the street to raise money for Birmingham Children's hospital.

My younger brother Danny, who's now 10, had a life-threatening problem with his intestines last year and had to have an operation.

He was so ill that the doctors kept him on a feeding tube for 84 days which cost thousands and thousands of pounds.

We just want to say thank you by raising as much money as we can for the hospital and for people with conditions like Danny had.

He is doing much better now although he has a massive scar and isn't fully recovered.

In our band, I play the drums and the mandolin and my dad plays the guitar and sings. I may sing a few songs as well.

1 choc bar = 2 hours ironing

I watched the programme on Thursday night and saw myself in the crowd for a second.

I was with Jo's dad - Jo is one of the stars of the show - and we were holding up cards which said how much exercise you had to do to burn off calories.

One card said it would take two hours or ironing to burn off the calories in a chocolate bar.

After the filming in the street I went to check out the bull ring, like the ones you get at a funfair, which was on the field.

A man who looked like an Italian model showed the crowd how to ride it and then one of the residents tried to stay on for as long as she could.

Line dancing's not as easy as it looks

I also took part in some line dancing. We all had to wear cowboy hats and follow the professionals at the front of the crowd.

Loads of people were able to do it straight away but when everyone turned, I turned the wrong way and trod on people's feet.

The professionals made it look easy, but I've not done it before and I found it quite hard.

Rounders - I'm for the reds!

On Sunday there's going to be a rounders match between presenter Matt and his team and some of the residents.

I'm going to go down to support the street and paint my face red which is the team colour.

I'm off to kick boxing now, but I'll fill you in on what's happening in the street a bit later."

Sarah, 14, Birmingham

Week 2

Sarah hopes she'll get the chance to cook with Ainsley Harriet.

"I got a phone call from one of the BBC researchers asking me if I would like to cook with Ainsley Harriet and some other children on the programme.

I'm waiting to hear if I'll take part but if I get the chance I'd love to.

It'd be like Ready, Steady, Cook and I'd buy a bag of food to cook with Ainsley.

I'd buy a bag of fruit and groceries to be healthy and learn how to make it taste nice.

I like cooking but I only really make pancakes so It'd be good to have the skills to cook a variety of food.

Caught on camera

I've been taking pictures of the street with my Newsround camera.

I got someone to take a picture of me standing next to presenter Matt Allwright.

I took one of Jo, one of the main people featured in the programme, listening to my dad playing the guitar.


There was a skipping rehearsal two hours before the live filming on Thursday night.

The three girls from the Great British Skipping team were really good. It was quite impressive to see them all skipping together."

Sarah, 14, Birmingham

Week 1

Sarah has already appeared on the launch programme and is preparing for the second show which will be live.

"For last Thursday's programme loads of us took part in a street skip.

There were three professional skippers and a boxer at the front of the group and the rest of us were behind them skipping.

I was at the back with two younger kids and they showed me how to skip with three ropes at the same time. It was easier than it sounds.

The difficult part was keeping in time and because I was taller than the other kids, they struggled to get the rope over my head.

The instructor at my kick-boxing class encourages me to skip as a way of improving my heart rate. It's a really good form of exercise.


Two glamorous models from a Sunday newspaper visited the street and were teasing us by handing out sausage rolls to all the residents.

Huge scales

Everyone had to stand on a massive weighing machine to find out how much we weighed as a street.

The scales were the size of an articulated lorry and we were all cramped up standing up on it.

All the residents have been weighed individually as well and told the programme's doctor about any health problems they have such as diabetes.

Mushroom mania

In the programme last Thursday people were asked about their favourite food. My favourites are crisps, chocolate and mushrooms.

I had potatoes and mushrooms and tomatoes for breakfast the other day. Strangely enough, I'm mad about mushrooms and have been since I was a kid.

I do tend to eat chocolate at school if there are no sandwiches left at lunch time.

It would be nice if they put more out or if the local shops sold packs of sandwiches you could pick up in the morning on your way to school.

I reckon loads of kids would buy them for their lunch.

Live show

The show on Thursday is going to be live and we've been told to hang out in the street.

The crew don't want to film an empty road so people will be washing their cars, playing football and acting casual.

The fitness instructor is coming round my house this week so I'm keen to see what she has to say.

Sarah, 14, Birmingham

Getting ready

Sarah will also appear on CBBC's Short Change, showing presenter Ortis round her street.

"During the filming, Ortis was in the street pretending he didn't know where to go and I had to say 'You look a bit lost. Come and look round with me.'

I showed him round the street and the temporary BBC studio which has been built in the middle of our road.

Upstairs there is a red seating area for the presenters and another area where they will weigh everyone.

The studio is massive. I thought it was going to be two temporary cabins but it's bigger than a house.

Not nervous

I'm not nervous about being on telly. It's something I've always wanted to do. I love acting and music; I play the drums.

The first time I had to stand in front of a camera I got all dressed up and brushed my hair, but now I just act myself.

After a while you forget the camera's there and it's not scary anymore.

But I won't know what I look like on camera until I watch myself on telly. If I look stupid or horrible, my friends will all get to see it!

Assault course

As part of the Big Challenge, I took part in a miniature assault course.

Three other girls, myself and three boys had to run with a ball up and down, go rock climbing and play a cross between netball and trampolining.

It was really good taking part but a bit boring while I was waiting for the others to be filmed.

I came in last place even though I was the eldest because I wasn't as quick as some of the boys and I didn't have their stamina.

I also have asthma which makes it quite hard. I'm hoping the programme will help me with my breathing.

The next day we were meant to do some running up and down the field but after the assault course I was so tired I had to stay in bed.

I also did some hip circling and bum clenching along with the entire street in front of the cameras. We had to do it for about two hours to make sure everyone was in time.

I do quite a lot of exercise already including cycling, badminton, kick boxing but I don't feel I'm fit.

Less pop - more awake

A few months ago I started eating more healthily and I gave up drinking pop. I felt a lot better and more awake but now I've started drinking it again.

I was off school for a bit while we were moving house and I sat in front of the telly and ate chocolate, which made me put on weight.

Even though I've lost it now, I'm worried that unless I change my diet I'll put it all back on again when I'm older.

I hope the experts can help me to eat more healthily."

Sarah, 14, Birmingham

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