Scarlett Moffatt to investigate the rise of Tourette’s and tics in teenagers

Over the course of the pandemic, doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ have seen a significant rise in the number of teenagers presenting with Tourette’s syndrome or tic disorders[1]. Now, Scarlett Moffatt wants to find out what is causing this medical mystery.

Scarlett Investigates… (1×60’) will be an unexpectedly personal journey for Scarlett as she herself developed facial tics when she was just 12 years old. Scarlett spent two years of her life with tics that were a result of suffering from Bell’s Palsy.

Typically, doctors would only receive four – six referrals per year which were acute onsets in teenagers; now they receive that many a week[2]. With three in four 13 – 19 year olds having experienced mental health issues since the start of the pandemic[3], experts believe one of the main causes of the rise of tics is triggered by anxiety[4].

Travelling around the country, Scarlett will meet some of those who have recently been diagnosed with the condition as well as scientists grappling with this new phenomenon, a group of Tourette’s TikTok influencers, charity campaigners and the neurologists treating the influx of adolescents.

Exploring whether there’s any past precedence in cases like this, Scarlett will leave no stone unturned as she finds herself in the middle of the debate and researches every potential cause – is it purely a symptom of the pandemic? Does social media have a part to play? Or could it be mass hysteria?

Scarlett Moffatt said, “I am so grateful to Channel 4, Firecracker and all of our incredible contributors for allowing us to focus a lens on the topic of Tourette’s and tics in teenagers. This show is something I personally feel incredibly passionate about as I suffered with facial tics when diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy as a child and wish there was this kind of information and education available back then as it’s something so many young people have to deal with.”

Daniel Fromm, Commissioning Editor for Factual Entertainment at Channel 4 added, “We are very grateful to Scarlett Moffatt and Firecracker for going on this deeply personal journey with us. We hope this film and her own insight will shed some much needed light on the rise and impact of Tourette’s on teenagers in the UK.”

Elspeth O’Hare, Creative Director for Firecracker Scotland said, “We are delighted to be working with Scarlett on this timely film. She will bring her trademark warmth and emotion to this to this sensitive subject as she investigates what is causing the recent rise of Tourette’s diagnosis in teenagers.”

Scarlett Investigates… (1 x 60’) was commissioned by Daniel Fromm, Commissioning Editor for Factual Entertainment at Channel 4. Scarlett Investigates… is a Firecracker Scotland production and the Executive Producers are Jennifer Gilroy and Elspeth O’Hare.


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