C4 and Cancer Research broadcast first TV ad of live surgery

Viewers tuning in to A New Life in the Sun on 18th January could have been forgiven for thinking they were watching 24 hours in A&E, with the airing of a live colonoscopy in the ad break.

In a world first, the surgical procedure was broadcast to raise awareness about the impact of research on cancer treatment and awareness.  The 90-second ad, ‘Live from the Inside’ created by Anomaly,  was filmed at Cardiff and Vale University hospital with Dr Sunil Dolwani explaining the procedure. There was a five minute delay before the ad appeared on air so after the 90" it took to film the ad, the team at Anomaly had 3.5 minutes to get creative, client and Clearcast approval, work out an edit from the two cameras and lay titles on screen.

A feat like this does not come without challenges and months of planning was required to find a patient who was keen to be involved, and one with an appointment that would work with an ad break at the right time of day. The live ad had to be broadcast during daytime TV, at 3.25pm, as the surgery had to take place during routine hospital hours.

A 60-second version was then rebroadcast later that evening during the Channel 4 drama No Offence. Teasers were shown on Channel 4 in the lead up to the ad airing and there was lots of promotion via the Cancer Research UK Facebook page. The ad was also streamed via Facebook Live and a nurse was on hand to answer questions via the Facebook page afterwards.

The live colonoscopy broadcast forms part of Cancer Research UK’s “Right Now” campaign, which was launched on Boxing Day. The campaign aims to show the reality of day-to-day life for patients, their loved ones, researchers and medical staff.


Broadcasting Philip’s colonoscopy live gives us the opportunity to show one of the many people across the UK who is benefiting from procedures that wouldn’t be possible without research.

Ed Aspel Cancer Research


When we came up with the idea it seemed impossibly ambitious. In many ways it’s the purest expression of Cancer Research UK’s ‘Right Now’ platform, which we launched last year. Hopefully it will remind people that there are little gains being made against cancer all day every day thanks to research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

Oli Beale ECD, Anomaly

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