Real Life

9:30pm Wednesday, October 5 on TV One

Real Life: Megaquake – The Hour That Shook Japan pieces together the events and human stories of March 11, 2011 – as Japan was brought to its knees by the third most powerful earthquake of all time, and the devastating tsunami which followed it.

Using living first-hand testimony and unseen footage from the people who lived through the most catastrophic of natural disasters, Megaquake – The Hour That Shook Japan tells the eyewitness stories of what it was like to live through the terror.

Shot on the ground in northern Japan, and featuring previously unseen archival footage, Megaquake – The Hour That Shook Japan presents the experience close-up with remarkable personal stories.

Contributions from the world’s top seismic and nuclear scientists also reveal how, and why, the earthquake and deadly wave hit. And where the next megaquake may be waiting…

Featured interviews include the first firefighter to gain access to the interior of the Fukushima nuclear plant – recalling the moment he went in, and the fear and desperation among those inside. And first-hand testimony from a young air traffic controller at Sendai Airport, who recounts how he struggled to deflect 747s from the danger zone.

As well, the first ever filming inside the Japan Meteorological Agency – Japan Earthquake Central Operations Room – and the staff who were on duty on March 11 when the emergency strategy was co-ordinated. Plus, actuality of the subsequent tsunami alarm there as it happened.

9:30pm Wednesday, September 21 on TV One

In tonight’s Real Life documentary maker Rob Harley investigates the death of Trent Keegan, an adventurous Kiwi freelance photographer, who was found murdered in a ditch in Nairobi, Kenya in May 2008.

Just before he died, Keegan had been on a photo assignment in northern Tanzania, covering a land dispute between a safari company and Masai tribes’ people.

The Kenyan police believed attack on Keegan didn’t look like a normal mugging as his laptop and camera were stolen when he was murdered, but the attackers left his bulging wallet and passport on his body.

Harley went inside the Kenyan prison and legal systems and gathered information which was then passed on to Nairobi police and New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign Affairs have confirmed that the man the documentary team strongly believed had murdered Keegan has since been charged with offences relating to Keegan’s death.

Real Life: Who Killed Trent Keegan? ventures to the wild safari lands of East Africa and into one of the world’s toughest prisons, looking for clues into Keegan’s death.

Missed an episode of Real Life? Episodes are available on line. Go to www.tvnz.co.nz and click ‘on demand’.

9:30pm Wednesday, September 14 on TV One

Real Life: Addicted to Food – Sharon’s Story is the tragic story of a 45-stone woman who has a life saving operation – and then starves herself to death.

The story begins when Sharon Mevsimler, a mother of four, is aged 39, and given five years to live. She is so fat she has not been out of her bedroom for a decade.

Sharon was called Britain’s Fattest Woman by the media. Obesity ran in her family. Her mother, Ann, once weighed over 20 stone before she had a gastric band fitted. Two of her brothers have gastric bands and Sharon herself paid for her son, Emra, to have a gastric band as well.

Two years ago obesity surgeon, Shaw Somers, agreed to operate on Sharon to save her life. A gastric by-pass operation would reduce her stomach to the size of an egg and help curtail her intake of food.

Two months later, after losing eight stone, she is out playing with her children in a paddling pool. All seems well with the world.

But less than a year later Sharon was dead. What went wrong baffled doctors. Sharon had lost weight but she went from being dangerously obese to the opposite extreme – she started to starve herself.

The media claimed Sharon died after binge eating on takeaways in her hospital bed. Her family was horrified at the stories. The truth was almost the opposite.

The family remains convinced Sharon made the right decision to have the surgery. But her fight against obesity ended in tragedy.

This is the true story of Sharon and her desperate fight against food addiction.

Missed an episode of Real Life? Episodes are available on line. Go to www.tvnz.co.nz and click ‘on demand’.

9:30pm Wednesday, August 31 on TV One

Jono Lancaster, the subject of TV ONE’s Real Life:Love Me Love My Face has suffered rejection and discrimination his entire life – all because of the way he looks.

Born with a rare genetic condition, Treacher Collins Syndrome, Jono has no cheekbones or external ears and has endured years of bullying and countless hospital appointments.

The nature of the condition means that any child Jono fathers will have a 50 percent chance of contracting Treacher Collins. Now Jono has an important question he wants answered – What If My Baby Was Born Like Me?

This programme follows Jono and his girlfriend Laura as they go on a quest to find out the options available to them should they decide to start a family. Jono will meet a variety of families all of whom have faced or are facing this very conundrum. He’ll also meet with youngsters affected by Treacher Collins, to see if attitudes have changed since his days at school.

Confronted by all the options, what will they decide? And will the decisions they make draw them closer together or push them further apart?

Missed an episode of Real Life? Full episodes are available on line. Go to www.tvnz.co.nz and click ‘on demand’.

9:30pm Wednesday, August 17 on TV One

Shoplifters Caught on Camera is coming to the rescue of some of Britain’s hardest hit retailers, by providing sophisticated CCTV systems and top retail security experts to catch shoplifters red-handed.

The programme rigs stores around the country with security camera systems, sends in security experts to watch the cameras – and then arrest the shoplifters when their thefts are caught on camera.

The Shoplifters Caught on Camera CCTV traps criminals stealing everything from clothes to groceries and DVDs to bars of chocolate. They also place secret cameras on store detectives to catch thieves in act – and film the dramatic arrests.

Some of the offenders admit to their crimes, while others are handed over to the police for prosecution.

9:30pm Wednesday, August 10 on TV One

The story of a woman who suffers from a condition so rare that doctors have not been able to make a diagnosis.

Since birth, Mandy Sellars’ legs have continued to grow and in 2008 reached a combined weight of 15 stone. It’s estimated the rest of Mandy’s body weighs less than six stone, as she is very slim. Mandy has recently developed a fatal infection in her left foot, which has led to her having surgery to amputate her left leg just above the knee.

This programme follows Mandy as she learns to walk again with a large, made-to-measure prosthetic leg. It follows her incredible journey to see if she is able to regain her independence following this life changing operation. It also shows Mandy having complicated medical tests in a bid to have her extremely rare condition diagnosed for the first time.

Missed an episode of Real Life? Full episodes are available on line. Go to www.tvnz.co.nz and click ‘on demand’.

9:30pm Wednesday, January 5 on TV One

Four years ago David Smith weighed 45 stone (286 kilograms). Lonely and still a virgin, he was eating himself to death. Doctors predicted he would not live to be 30 years old.

Then he met fitness guru Chris Powell, who helped him completely change his life. Under Powell’s supervision, Smith embarked on a healthy diet and exercise plan that allowed him to shape up without the need for surgery.

Now having lost more than 28 stone (178 kilograms) he is fit, healthy and hoping to make up for lost years by finding himself a girlfriend. Underneath the excess weight was a gentle, handsome young man who is ready to look for love. However, he does not know where to begin.

Real Life: 45 Stone Virgin follows Smith as he dates for the first time. From blind-dates and speed-dating events, to coaching on how to flirt and online dating, viewers will see whether he can put the past behind him in order to build a happier future. Smith says instead of being a dud, he wants to be a stud.

He’ll also discover the downsides of weight loss, namely excess skin and emotional scars. He says while other teens were starting to date, every day for him was a living nightmare. “I’d get bullied walking through the halls, just people hitting me in the arm, flicking my ears, the worst thing ever thrown at me would probably be dog faeces. It just makes you feel like a piece of garbage.

“The names hurt a lot but the laughter hurt a lot more because those people, those kids saw me as a joke.”

Smith dropped out of high school at 17. With no reason to leave the house, he spent all his days inside, eating. The death of his mother to cancer was another emotional blow that cause the weight to pile on. But now he’s determined to make up for lost time.

“I’ve lost a lot of my childhood and my teenage years, I never really developed all the social skills as far as making friends and meeting girls. I’m scared that you know they will judge me and I’m not worthy of being with them.

“Everybody wants that fairytale ending,” he says. “Hopefully I can find that fairy princess and sweep her off her feet.”

9:30pm Wednesday, December 29 on TV One

Real Life: Baby Birthday Bashes follows the mums and dads who believe that their child’s birthday party is the most important day of the year.

These lavish events take months to plan, are exhausting to pull off and cost a fortune but they can also cause tension amongst the other parents who struggle to keep up with these sophisticated shindigs.

Meet four families who each have their own unique reasons for holding such elaborate functions – an eight year old boy who is throwing a cowboy themed party, a girl’s winter wonderland party featuring meerkats, unicorns and reindeer, a superhero extravaganza and a bar mitzvah held at a five star hotel.

One of the mums is Suzanne Dickinson from Wales who makes up for her own austere Jehovah’s Witness upbringing by throwing spectacular celebrations. She explains, “I grew up with a dad who was a Jehovah’s Witness, he was pretty religious, so I basically grew up with no Santa, no fairies, no Christmas or nothing.”

Dickinson goes on to add, “I suppose some people look at me and think well, you do pull off big parties and things and why do you go so over the top? Are you living your childhood through your kids?”

But for Dickinson the answer is simple: “No, not really, but I’m enjoying with them what I didn’t have and I think that’s really special.”

9:30pm Wednesday, December 15 on TV One

Meet 35-year-old Kenny Easterday whose body ends at his waist and who walks on his hands. Easterday has had no lower body since his legs had to be amputated when he was a child – but has always refused to use a wheelchair or prosthetics.

Easterday has a rare condition called Sacral Agenesis, and neither his spine or his legs developed normally. Tonight’s Real Life: The Man With Half A Body follows Easterday, who has not let his lack of a lower body half, stop him from living a normal life.

Although Easterday has no legs, he is firm in the belief that he is no different from anyone else. “I put my shirt on the same way that anybody else does, I can’t say I put my pants on the same way as anybody else does, but you know, I eat the same way anybody else does. There’s nothing different about me,” he says.

Easterday has never worn prosthetic legs or relied on a wheelchair. Believing he’d be more mobile and independent without them, he learnt to walk using his arms: “I’ve been like this for 35 years. I’ve walked on my hands for 35 years. I’ve got calluses. My other hand has them too. The older I got, you know, the tougher my hands would get from naturally walking on my hands.”

Neither has Easterday let his extraordinary body stop him finding love, working or looking after his fianc�e’s children. Easterday’s fianc�e, Nicky, has forever been impressed by he partner’s ability to complete mundane everyday tasks. She says, “he washes dishes, he cooks, he vacuums, he mows the lawn. I’ve never seen him not be able to do anything, no matter what it is.”

However, Easterday’s deepest desire as he approaches middle age is to father his own child, and he and his fianc� have always suspected he might be the biological dad to her seven-year-old daughter, Desiree.

“I have always felt in my heart that Desiree is mine,” says Easterday. I want a child to carry my name, someone that can carry my legacy on and be able to say, well, that’s my daddy.”

Real Life: The Man With Half A Body sees Easterday has he completes a DNA test to find out if he is Desiree’s biological father.

9:30pm Wednesday, December 8 on TV One

The world’s heaviest man is finally getting married. Manuel Uribe gained worldwide attention when his extraordinary weight hit the headlines in March 2006. After years of weight gain and unsuccessful surgery, Uribe became the heaviest man on the planet, weighing in at 85 stone.

Following a long stage of depression he almost committed suicide, but a change of fate, an appeal of help to the world, and the assistance of doctors, got him back on track. Uribe says, he was in such a desperate place, he needed help. “I was battling with my body and my mind, depression is a terrible thing. I appealed to anyone on the planet who could help to step forward and save me.”

His desperate televised appeal to the world brought floods of offers from surgeons and dieticians. Although still unable to get out of bed, he has now lost more than 30 stone, and fallen in love. His recent proposal to his long-term girlfriend is the latest step in his rehabilitation.

Real Life: The World’s Heaviest Man Gets Married sees how love can prevail against the odds as Uribe and his wife-to-be, Claudia, deal with being victims of gossip and disbelief in their relationship.

Uribe says people often ask how such an obese man managed to get such a pretty girlfriend. He explains: “After knowing Claudia for two years as a friend, I started to look at her in a different way. I felt good, something warm inside.”

For Claudia it’s not the first time she’s been here. Her first marriage ended when her then husband Roman – who weighed 220 kilos (34 stone) and was a friend of Uribe’s – died suddenly due to his excessive weight. She says, “people think I am crazy to do this all over again, to struggle in a relationship with an obese man. But you can’t choose who you fall in love with.”

When the news of their marriage hit headlines around the world, Uribe said it’s a chance for the pair to prove their love to each other with the hope of starting a family. “To them it’s like a soap opera, but for me it’s real life, and it’s only the beginning,” he says.