Screenshot | Great British Skinny Dip | ©Channel4 | Reproduced under 'Fair Use'
This documentary follows Andrew Welch the Commercial manager for British Naturism creating a number of 'skinny dip' events across the country in order for people to try naturism for the first time.
This hour long programme portrays UK club naturism as it is. Most naturist club members are older people who like camping and socialising together, but they want to boost their numbers and get more people and particularly younger people, involved.
Andrew has the unenviable task of selling 'Naturism' to the public. Sadly, the overall result of the The Great British Skinny Dip events and how many newcomers they eventually attract is disappointingly low, and to be fair, the British weather was particularly bad that day, but Andrew remains upbeat and positive about it all and of the future of British naturism.
The programme also follows his relationship with his new partner Sheryn, who is not a naturist herself but she eventually is convinced to try it out, both by Andrew's enthusiasm and not wishing to disappoint him, she becomes a naturist club member and participates at one of the naturist events.
Also interviewed in the programme was a neighbour of a naturist who didn't like the idea of naturism but accepted that this is what her neighbours did. The neighbour had some serious self-image and body issues over her weight and looks and claimed that there was no way that she could participate in naturism because of this. She was also a bit envious of her naturist neighbours who could. The great irony is that if she participated in naturism, then she would almost certainly lose her phobias, boost her own self-esteem and feel a lot better about herself. That irony was lost on her, perhaps lost on the non-naturist audience too. Especially when you consider that she was a younger woman and that her naturist neighbours were somewhat older.
The programme left me with a feeling that:
I have known Andrew Welch since around 1989 when we were both in out mid 20's. He worked for a law firm and I worked for a firm of estate agents. We both moved on from those roles and then later met some 10 years later as members of Diogenes Sun Club under completely different circumstances. I was a member of Diogenes for around 17 years and can confirm that the club is run by (and run for), post and pre-retirement aged couples and is predominantly an eating and drinking social-club rather than any kind of health and fitness or back-to-nature type of naturist leisure facility.
Back in the 1990s when we joined Diogenes there were a lot more younger people along with many families with children. But they have either left the club or just got older as people do. This decline in younger members, which has happened across most naturist clubs, has left naturism and naturist clubs less appealing to younger people.
Naturist clubs are also stuck in a backward looking time zone. Naturist club members reminisce about how things were so much better way-back-when. They sit around talking about their operations and their ailments while drinking tea. They also make it difficult for new members to join. They treat younger people with suspicion, especially parents with children or any one who is not part of a traditional male/female couple over the age of about 50.
In other words, the 'product' itself which British naturist clubs offer is of little appeal, which is why I believe that British club naturism is so much in decline. Naturism alone is not something that can be marketed easily, so there has to be some other benefit, or some other purpose to attract people to naturism.
In contrast, holiday naturism both in the UK and abroad is thriving. High quality naturist bed-and-breakfast type facilities and naturist hotels such as the hugely popular Clover Spa in Birmingham are doing very well too. People love sun-drenched golden sands where they can swim and sunbathe naked. Continental (French, German Dutch) naturist facilities with all day sport and recreation activities available make for a great naturist experience, but hanging out with some old people sitting on the lawn? The only people this will attract is more old people who want to hang-out on the lawn, and this is what we typically have with British Club Naturism.