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  I'm getting healthy on TV
Updated 05 November 2004, 17.56

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 week

Abhishek shares his 14th birthday with Bonfire night and Fat Nation, the Big Challenge's end of series party.

"The programme are going to have a leaving party at my school and the presenters will be there.

There'll be a couple of speeches. It'll be just like a normal party except that all the food and drink will be healthy.

Because it's my birthday it feels a bit like it's also a party for me. I'll be able to show off my new Manchester United top which I got as a present.

I'm going to have my own party on Sunday.

Dancing and magic

Last night was the final live programme and the guests were Strictly Come Dancing's Brendan Cole and magician Paul Daniels and his wife Debbie McGee.

I chatted to all three of them.

I asked Paul Daniels who he was and he replied that he used to be a magician 15 or 20 years ago.

I asked him why he gave it up and he said that he got too old.

My dad told me that Paul Daniels was really famous back in the days.

Brendan said he really enjoyed doing the programme and would do it again.

He also said that dancing had been a really good influence in his life.

Conveyor belt

He was doing Salsa dancing on a conveyor belt in the street.

Fitness expert Efua and some of the residents were also dancing. There was a big crowd of people watching.

It looked really complicated and hard work.

I'd be trying to work out how he managed to do one step and when I looked back to see the next step, he'd already be on the fifth!

Debbie McGee was talking about her career as a ballet dancer.

She said that dancers had to eat six times a day because of all the energy they burned.

She explained that dancing stretches the muscles around your stomach and recommended that boys took up ballet.

I wouldn't mind having a go, but I think I'd prefer to do something more like Salsa.

Slimmer Justin

Presenter Justin was taking about all the weight he's lost during the nine weeks.

He said he used to eat little snacks every hour but that now he eats one big, healthy snack.

He also said he cut down the amount of alcohol he drinks.

Presenter Matt was pretending to be Justin by wearing a fake beard.

The two of them were in the studio kitchen and when Justin bent down behind the counter, Matt popped up. It was funny!

Fav bits

Of all the celebrities I've met on the street I think my favourite is Shola Ama.

That's because I caught her when she wasn't rushing between one place and the next. She had time to stop and chat to me.

Of all the stuff I've done, I enjoyed the remake of Thriller the most because I really love Michael Jackson's music.

I also loved doing the skipping with Frank Bruno. That's because I used to skip a lot when I was in Year Five at school and by taking it up again I've lost weight.

I think the most difficult part of Fat Nation, the Big Challenge was trying to keep up the exercise every day.

There were some weeks I didn't do as much as I'd like every day.

But I'm going to keep the exercise up even though the programme has finished.


It's been a brilliant experience being in Fat Nation, the Big Challenge and I've also enjoyed writing these reports.

I'll miss it all loads but at least I can still watch Newsround when I get home from school. It's one of my favourite programmes!

Abhishek, 13, Birmingham

Week 8

Abhishek plastered his face with fake blood and bandages for a remake of Michael Jackson's Thriller video.

"I was dressed as one of the zombies in a pair of shrunk jogging bottoms and a ripped T-shirt coated in fake blood and glitter.

There were about 30 of us dressed as ghosts while Efua, the fitness expert, played Michael Jackson.

There were lots of people watching us!

We had to shrug our shoulders, bend down, touch our knees, turn around and hold our hands up like zombies.


I was dancing so hard one of my trainers fell off and I nearly slipped over.

As I bent down to tie up my shoe lace, I saw the camera turning towards me.

I was worried everyone would see me losing my shoe on live TV!

But when I got home and watched a video of the programme, I was just off screen.

I was so lucky!


There was a lot of work to do to get ready.

On Monday there was a meeting to tell us all what to do. On Tuesday there was a dance rehearsal.

On Wednesday there was a dress rehearsal and on Thursday it was the real thing.


It was raining while we were filming and I was really cold dressed in a T-shirt and three-quarter-length trousers.

By the time I got home, I was soaking wet but my face paint hadn't run. In fact it was really hard to get off.

It was all worth it through, especially because I like listening to Michael Jackson.


The night before, I got really scared about being in the Thiller remake.

But my friends reminded me that this was my last chance to be on TV - it's the final episode next Thursday.

I'll really miss it!

I was talking to my friends about what it's going to be like without the studio in the street.

We all agreed it'll feel very empty.

The best

These have been the best nine weeks of my life.

They've made me realise so much about eating healthily and doing exercise.

I'd say it's changed my life.

Before Fat Nation, the Big Challenge came to the street, my mum'd tell me whether something was healthy or not.

But now I make choices about my own food.

Even when the F-team leave, I'll still keep up my good exercise and eating habits.

My neighbour and I are going to motivate one another.


It's been really good being on telly. I feel like a celebrity!"

Abhishek, 13, Birmingham

Week 7

Birmingham City player Emile Heskey gave Abhishek his autograph.

"I asked him how he got into football and he told me that it had always been his ambition.

When he signed his autograph, he accidentally took my Newsround pen.

By the time I realised, he was halfway back to the production studio on a kind of golf cart they use to ferry people around.

I ran after him shouting "Stop the cart." I managed to stop him outside my house.

He gave me back my pen and said he was sorry.


He made a guest appearance on the street to judge an exercise event.

There was a mat on the street and residents were using rowing machines, trampolines and other exercise equipment. They also had a hot tub.

The fitness lady, Efua, was also there showing how to exercise when you take a shower.

You can wave your arms to tone them up and do bending exercise while scrubbing your feet.

I shower when I get up, but at that time in the morning I'm not awake enough to do the exercises.


I've been picked to play one of the zombies in a remake of Michael Jackson's Thriller video which Fat Nation, the Big Challenge are doing for Halloween.

I've got some old clothes, a mask and a cape.

I went to an audition on Saturday and had to do some dance moves.

I just concentrated hard and did what Efua said but some of the other kids got thrown out for messing around and talking.

I was really excited when I heard that I'd been picked. I'm really looking forward to the first rehearsal.


The F team went round people's houses and dug out any gym equipment they had in their attics or sheds.

My mum remembered there were some weights in the attic so I got them down.

Now I lift some of the smaller weights while watching TV.

My neighbour showed me how to lift them properly and I don't use the really heavy ones because I'm still growing.

I even made myself a few weights by following the instructions Efua gave on the interactive bit of the programme.

She shows you how to use phone books as weights or fill plastic bags with rice.

Jump off

I've been going to the gym at school every lunch time.

The other day I switched the running machine on too fast and I nearly fell off.

I could keep up for the first five minutes but after that the tread mill ran away and I had to jump off.

Now it's half term, I'm going to do about three hours of exercise each day; football, cycling, running, skipping and lifting weights."

Abhishek, 13, Birmingham

Week 6

Abishek downs a smoothie and gets some top tips from a French chef

"This week the TV team were showing us how to have something healthy instead of fizzy drinks or milkshakes.

A smoothie drink bar was set up on the Fat Nation street for Thursday night.

The smoothie machine was attached to a bike and you had to sit on and pedal it to make the power for the machine that made the drinks.

There were four bikes and each was looked after by one resident. As you pedalled you called out the fruits you wanted to go into your smoothie.

I chose things like mangoes, apples and strawberries. Then they put in some ice and then you could pick which flavour juice you wanted.

It tasted nice I'd make it again as it's really healthy!

Sumo wrestlers

There were also sumo wrestler costumes to wear. They were made out of padded plastic and people had to knock each other down onto the special mats that were put on the road to protect you.

Anyone from the street could have a go.

Top chef

A top French chef came to judge a cooking competition. He was wearing a proper chef's hat and all white clothes.

Four people from the street had to make something that they thought was healthy and he gave it a mark out of ten.

The winner was a pudding served in a wine glass!"

I asked the chef for some tips for people who don't like cooking. He said I should just go to my fridge, pick out something healthy and then be creative.

He reckons that whatever you're doing, just be creative. Even if you're just making a sandwich, make a round sandwich!

Abhishek, 13, Birmingham

Week 5

He shoots - he scores! Abishek puts a penalty past an international Footballer.

"This week the TV people set up a penalty shoot-out in the middle of the Fat Nation street.

There were proper goal posts and four of us took penalties. We had to put the ball past Toni-Anne Wayne. She's the goalkeeper for the women's England team.

I took my penalty third, so I could watch the others do theirs. The first shot went in, the second one missed and then it was me. I scored, by putting the ball to the left because I'd seen the goalie dive right for the first two shots.

Afterwards I asked Toni-Anne for some tips on goalkeeping, she said it's important to keep focused on the game, watch the ball and watch the players, don't daydream.

Life-sized table football

There was also a life-sized table football match on the street and residents and presenters were on the teams. They could move their legs around but they were on massive poles, joining the players together, just like in table football.

I got some more advice from Efua, the Fat Nation fitness expert. I'm going for longer runs now, and I've started going to the school gym.

She reckons I'm doing a good job with my fitness and she showed me how to find her exercise stuff on interactive TV. She also said that she's doing some work for the next Batman movie.

On Thursday Nick Bailey, who plays Dr Anthony Trueman on Eastenders was on the street. I got to speak to him and it turns out he's from three roads away from here, but he moved to London for his acting career.

Getting noticed

Reporting on Fat Nation's got me interested in journalism, and I think people have noticed what I'm up to because the presenter Matt asked me how my career was going!

Because they knew what I was doing for Short Change, one of the producers from Fat Nation gave me a free copy of the book that goes with the TV show. I got it signed by the presenters."

Abhishek, 13, Birmingham

Week 4

Frank Bruno tells Abhishek that he first took up boxing because he was being bullied at school.

"Short Change asked me to interview Frank Bruno.

He told me he first got into boxing when he was eight-years-old because he was bullied at school.

He took up boxing as a way of letting out the anger he felt about the bullying and he found that after a while the bullies no longer picked on him.

Frank - a teenage pro

Frank was a professional boxer by the time he was my age, about 13 or 14.

I told him I liked skipping and that I could do 300 skips in seven minutes. He said that was good for someone my age.

He told me that boxers skipped to help them jump and move quickly in the ring.

Frank also told me he was going to be cooking on the programme to show how it could be fun.

I only had three minutes to interview him so it all seemed to go too quickly.

He was really nice and told me I should go into journalism as it's something I'm really interested in

He gave me his autograph and I took a picture of him. For Fat Nation, the Big Challenge, a boxing ring was set up in the middle of the street.

Fitness expert Efua took on presenter Justin and she was winning! It was really funny.

Twisted ankle

I heard that Efua, presenter Matt and psychologist John went for a jog at seven in the morning.

But John twisted his ankle and Matt had to carry him a mile back to the hotel!

Bum clenching - embarrassing!

I joined in the aerobic exercises with the kids from the street for the programme but I stayed at the back because I was a bit embarrassed.

It was like a dance with clapping, jumping and bum clenching!

Video diary

I also made a video diary for Short Change and talked to the producer about the street in the studio.

While I was there, I got to see inside the kitchen area where all the camera crew hang out.

They had loads of equipment including an autocue which the presenters use to read the script off.

I was told it takes 40,000 feet of cable to make the programme. It stretches from one end of the street to the other.

VIP treatment

I persuaded a member of the BBC crew, whose job it is to ferry people from one end of the street to the other on his go-kart, to let me have a ride.

It was great. I felt like a VIP."

Abhishek, 13, Birmingham

Week 3

Abhishek chatted to singer Shola Ama about her next album.

"When I heard she was going to be on the programme me and my friends went down to the studio and spoke to her.

She said she had really enjoyed filming the programme.

She told me she had an album coming out next year and she thought it was good that I liked her as a singer.


There was a bull fighting ring in the street - the kind you get at a funfair.

It was quite easy to stay on when the bull was going slow but it got harder as it got faster and faster.

You could see from the faces of the people on the bull that they wanted to get off.

It was really funny when they got thrown off. I couldn't stop laughing.

The man who owned the bull ring demonstrated how to do it during an opening act.

He had his top off and was showing off all his muscles by holding the bull with one hand.

Short Change

Short Change asked me to interview some shop keepers about their trade to find out if it has been affected by Fat Nation - The Big Challenge.

The first three shop assistants I tried didn't want to be interviewed but the fourth one, a newsagent, said that children had stopped buying as many sweets, chocolates and crisps.

He also said that BBC staff buying snacks and stuff were making up for lost sales.

I also interviewed a man who lived up the road who had six children - three of them go to my school.

He said that his kids used to eat chips, burgers and chocolate bars for school dinners but now he gives them sandwiches, apples and orange juice to take for lunch.

I time my walks

I have been timing how much walking I do a week.

It takes me 15 minutes to get to school and 10 minutes on the way back because I always rush to get home.

So that makes at least three hours and five minutes of walking each week.

I went for an extra 10 minutes round the block one morning which is not something I would normally do.

I'm Miss Chiplash at home

I'm staying off the pop and crisps and I don't eat chocolate anymore.

In fact I persuaded my mum to empty all the cupboards of chocolate and throw it in the bin! It was like being Miss Chiplash in my own home.

I have braces put on my teeth, which means I can't have stuff like crisps which is good for my health."

Abhishek, 13, Birmingham

Week 2

Abhishek met Richard Blackwood who was a guest on the programme.

"I heard that Richard Blackwood was being interviewed in the studio so I ran down there.

There were lots of other people waiting to get his autograph.

When he signed his name for me he asked me if I liked his songs and if I'd seen him on TV.

I asked him if he had any new songs coming out and he said there'd be one out next year. He was really funny.

I also wanted to get the autographs of rower James Cracknell and Aston Villa footballer James Robinson who were also on the programme.

But they had already gone by the time I got to the studio.

Presenters' comments

I asked all the presenters and experts to write about Thursday's programme in my Press Pack notepad.

Presenter Matt Allwright wrote: 'I loved it. I lost five pounds in an hour.'

The fitness expert Efua Baker wrote: 'I think the show was great although I've not seen it yet.'

Vicki Edgson aka Miss Chiplash, the food expert who goes round people's houses and takes fatty food out of their freezers, wrote: 'Being Miss Chiplash is a real responsibility but I'm liking it.'

Presenter Georgie Windsor wrote: 'This is one of, if not the best, programme to work on.'

Presenter Justin Lee Collins wrote: 'The interview with James went really well today. It is a pleasure working with such a brilliant team.'

This was the first time I had met Justin, Georgie and Miss Chiplash, so it was really good.

I met Matt the other day when he asked me about the Manchester united top I was wearing. He supports Liverpool and jokingly called me a traitor.


I took part in a street skipping event. They had the Great British Skipping team there and they were really good.

It was really confusing what they were doing. They were playing hopscotch while skipping, then skipping on one leg and swapping skipping ropes while they were jumping.

But in the end they never showed that on TV. What they did show was me riding my bike in the background while the presenters talked about pedometers.

I wasn't expecting it at all. They must've captured me randomly."

Abhishek, 13, Birmingham

Week 1

Abhishek has been chatting to presenter Matt Allwright.

"The other day I was walking past the studio while Matt was on a break from filming.

He saw my Manchester United top and he jokingly shouted 'Oi traitor' because he supports Liverpool.

We got chatting and he seemed really nice.

I have also met some of the experts involved in the programme including the fitness instructor.

She knows me by name now because I go to all her sessions.

Short Change

The other day I went into the studio to talk to a researcher from Short Change on the phone about what's been happening in the street.

She said they wanted to film me again on Monday.

I was asked for my autograph

Every one at school has said they have seen me on TV - even people I never knew before.

It's been almost a week since the first programme and people are still coming up to me.

One of my friends even asked me for his autograph and I wrote my name on his hand.

My dad has a shop and customers have been telling him they've seen me on telly as well.

I was really surprised at the amount of people who have seen me on Short Change and Fat Nation, the Big Challenge.


We have all been sent a letter about the rehearsal for the live show on Thursday.

It says that the Great British skipping team are paying a visit to the street and we are all to meet outside the studio on Wednesday night to practice skipping for the live show on Thursday.

I've never heard of the team before but I'm looking forward to watching them skip.

I like skipping and since starting the Big Challenge I do about 300 to 400 skips a day.

I have always skipped for fun but now I make sure I do it every day as a way of keeping fit.

I really enjoy it and feel better for the exercise.

I also do about 30 to 40 sit ups at the gym at school and about 7 press ups - I don't like them as much as skipping.


Two glamorous models from a newspaper were in the street.

They were teasing us all by handing out burgers, chips, pies and hot dogs and inviting people to have their photos taken with them.

But loads of people from the street told them to go away.

No to bacon butties

I've started eating more healthily. I used to have a bacon sandwich for breakfast but now I'll have toast and cereal and maybe a banana.

When I come home from school I'm often hungry. I used to have a packet of crisps but now I'll have an apple instead.

I'm always asking my mum how much fat there is in food and have really starting paying attention to what I eat.

Also, I'm not missing the fizzy drinks I gave up."

Abhishek, 13, Birmingham

Getting ready

Abhishek has already taken part in several exercise classes run by the programme's fitness expert.

"I was really embarrassed during the bending class and hid from the camera on the back row. But the camera man came round the back any way: I couldn't escape!

After a while I just acted myself in front of the camera. During the skipping class I stayed at the front: Being filmed didn't bother me as much.

Weigh in

I've been weighed twice and had my height measured. The programme's doctor told me: 'I'll tell you what I say to every kid: Stay away from the crisps and fatty food.'

I don't eat crisps anyway but I do feel a bit better for giving up fizzy drinks. I know that all the sugar in them is bad for me.

Now, if I'm thirsty I get a glass of water instead.

I met Otis

I was also filmed chatting to Ortis, the presenter of CBBC's Short Change.

The TV team wanted me to play football while Ortis came up to me to ask me about the street.

I told him I liked living there and that the people on the street were really nice. I also told him about the exercise classes.

Ortis was really funny and was always making everyone laugh.

While we were filming all about healthy eating, an ice cream van pulled up and he ran up to it and jokingly asked for the biggest ice-cream!

On location

I can't believe how quickly they put up the BBC studio in the middle of the street. It was built in just a week and a half.

When they filmed the street, they hoisted really powerful lights up on special 'cherry picker' cranes.

They made it so bright outside it felt like a film set.

Even at 10.30pm, everyone was still outside because the lights made it seem like day.

New friends

I have made four new friends since the BBC came to our street. Because everyone is joining in it means you get to know people a lot better.

I met a boy who was also being filmed for Short Change and started talking to him and now we play football together.

I went back to school last week and all my class mates kept asking me when I was going to be on telly. I'm not worried about it though."

Abhishek, 13, Birmingham

Why don't you write us a Press Pack report - and get it published on the site?!

It can be about anything that's happened in your local area - or your views on the news.

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