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How Early Is Too Early for TV Nudity?

Full frontal nudity on public television "“ before 9 p.m.?

Well, if it's in the name of art, it's fine with the BBC. This summer, BBC 4 will be running a five-part series called Life Class: Today's Nude and will absolutely feature full female and male frontal nudity starting at 6 p.m. The show is an attempt to encourage a return to traditional art study (and it'll no doubt inspire at least a few teenage boys to take an interest in art), and will, in addition to the nude of the night, feature an expert doling out advice. Evidently, nude figure drawing has declined in recent years in Britain, as many students have opted to stay away from classical training in favor of more technical and graphical based art skills.

The naked before 9 p.m. aspect of the show caused a bit of a stir "“ but not nearly as much as you'd think. BBC 4, for example, had no problem deciding to air the program because the nudity was "non-sexualized" and "educational." As most people in America probably know, Britain's rules regarding nudity on television (and in most other media) are a bit more lax than in the States. But what exactly are those rules?

According to the BBC's editorial guidelines, nudity before the "watershed" hour of 9 p.m. at night "“ the time after which programming geared towards adults may be aired "“ must be justified by context. And representations of sex are not allowed, unless there is a serious educational purpose, when broadcast before the watershed. Post-watershed, the program must be able to justify the "frank and realistic portrayal of sex" and the discussion of themes around it.

But What About Profanity? Drug Use? Rock-Climbing?

The BBC's guidelines also dictate how their programs handle: Offensive language (not allowed in preschool programming, and only under special circumstances for children's programming); rock-climbing and other extreme sports (with a disclaimer); alcohol and drug use (don't glamorize it, unless warranted); hypnotism (according to the 1952 Hypnotism Act, hypnotism must be licensed); and exorcism, the occult and the paranormal (entertainment programs about these subjects "should not normally contain advice about health, finance, employment or relationships which could encourage people to make life changing decisions").

Not Anything Goes

fabia.jpgJust because the BBC's guidelines are a bit more lax than say, the FCC's, doesn't mean the Brits aren't OK with everything. After Saturday night's airing of Britain's Got Talent, the ITV show that catapulted 47-year-old church volunteer Susan Boyle and her glorious voice into fame, watchdog group OfCom received 39 calls of complaint about another contestant, a burlesque dancer. Fabia Cerra, a 35-year-old former Disco champion and ex-drug addict whose routine featured her breasts, after she stripped down to a black teddy and red-sequined pasties, was given the go ahead to pass on to the next round of judging.

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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