Sex: A Horizon Guide

Genre: Documentary

This programme contains scenes which

some viewers may find upsetting.


A simple word for the most intimate,

sensitive and complex of subjects.

Sex is at the core of our deepest


It's part of what makes us human -

it drives our passions,

our frustrations and our moments

of greatest ecstasy.

One way or another it defines us.

But unravelling the secrets of sex

has been a contentious

and risky business for science...

..and an equally big challenge

for television.

For more than 45 years,

Horizon and the BBC

have reported on how science has

improved our understanding of sex,

strived to solve our problems

with it,

and even tried to help us

do it better.

In this programme we'll also

look at how science helped us

understand gender and fertility.

But can science really save the day

when sex goes wrong?

Biologically, of course,

sex is about reproduction,

but that falls rather short of

what it means to us as a species.

Arousal, desire, sexuality,


are all incredibly personal

to each of us.

And because of that,

science got involved in our

sex lives rather late in the day.

Until recently, we knew very little

about the most basic aspects

of human sexuality.

So how did scientists

uncover our sexual secrets

and what did they learn?

To truly understand a subject

so complex, delicate

and sometimes plain embarrassing,

someone needed to ask difficult

and intimate questions

about what we got up to

behind closed doors.

Perhaps the first person

to approach sex

in a systematic and scientific way

was Dr Alfred Kinsey.

Kinsey's lifelong passion

was collecting insects.

But in the 1930s

he switched his attention

to collecting the sexual habits

of humans.

When asked by the bright young

students of Indiana University

to teach a course that covered

human sexual behaviour,

Kinsey discovered that very little

research had been carried out

on the sexual habits of people.

We knew far more about copulation in

other animals than we did in humans.

I discovered that there is

practically nothing known

about human sexual behaviour

in comparison with what we knew about

the sexual behaviour of other animals

and in comparison in what we knew

about the activities

of other parts of the human body.

In order to get meaningful data

about the sex lives of humans,

he asked his own students

about their intimate experiences.

And, for the sake of science,

he pulled no punches.

He asked me questions about the...

..dimensions of my sex organs

which I couldn't answer.

"Well, take this envelope

and this piece of paper,

"go home and measure yourself

and send it to me."

Kinsey's curiosity became obsession.

In less than ten years

he personally collected

sexual information

on more than 7,000 people.

Kinsey's results were published

in two books

that both became best sellers.

Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male

appeared in 1948,

followed by Sexual Behaviour

in the Human Female in 1953.

For the first time,

science was attempting to obtain

objective data on what ordinary

people did behind closed doors.

Don't forget, this was in early days,

when there were a lot of suspicions

about such things, and in addition

it was the McCarthy era,

so Kinsey had to be absolutely

circumspect in everything.

This related to things like dirty

jokes, we were never permitted

to do such things,

tell such things, on the staff.

Kinsey's work revealed that

affairs in marriage

were extremely common

for both men and women.

But that was the least of it.

His findings showed that even before

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Sex: A Horizon Guide" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 20 Oct. 2020. <>.

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