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TV: Lost World of Communism (1/3)

March 15, 2009

Perils of anabolic steroids, originally uploaded by Thoroughly Good.

The chocolatey tones of the continuity announcer did make it quite clear that some clips in the Lost World of Communism DVD copy available via Amazon) documentary would be disturbing. Take it from me, you probably don’t want to be eating your tea when you watch this. It’s not violent and worthy of ringing and complaining, but there are moments which left me breathless.

There are people getting caught in barbed wire fences, disturbing anecdotes from prison camps and sickening sights of greed and arrogance from a hunt attended by various party officials, one of whom seemed to be a pretty poor shot.

But by far the most disturbing and the most memorable was the case of one former East German shotputter who as a teenage girl was encouraged to start a course of anabolic steroids. Prolonged use resulted in a serious identity crisis – the looks of a man in the body of a woman. No surprise then this particular former athelete found herself having to undergo a sex change.

The first of a series of three documentaries juxtaposing unseen archive footage with some surprising opinions about the former communist state – singer Christine Doerk was one of a handful of contributors who explained how life was actually quite good before the Berlin Wall came down – made for an engaging and informative hour of documentary television.

Series producer Peter Molloy spoke to Clive Anderson on Saturday’s Loose Ends about the series.

Assistant producer Kerstin Fischer writes about her experiences for BBC News Online

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