Michael Mosley: The TV doctor who pushed his body to extreme lengths during his research

The TV doctor, author and columnist Michael Mosley, who has died at 67 after going missing on the Greek island of Symi, helped popularise the 5:2 diet and often pushed his body to extreme lengths during his research into health and wellbeing.

He first trained as a doctor before moving into the world of broadcasting. Through his work, he ingested tapeworms for six weeks for a 2014 documentary called Infested! Living With Parasites on BBC Four.

After studying PPE at Oxford, Mosley became an investment banker but later retrained as a doctor at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

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However, he decided it was not the right profession for him after qualifying, and went on to join the BBC as a trainee assistant producer and eventually moved from behind the cameras to presenting.

Dr Michael Mosley. (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)Dr Michael Mosley. (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)
Dr Michael Mosley. (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

In 1995, he was named medical journalist of the year by the British Medical Association following his documentary about research that found a potential connection between a bacteria and gastric ulcers.

During 2011, he fronted the controversial documentary Inside The Human Body, which aired the dying moments of a man.

Mosley said at the time it was important not to “shy away from talking about death and, when it’s warranted, showing it” and added “there is a case to be made for filming a peaceful, natural death – a view shared by many who work closely with the dying”.

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During his career with the BBC, he presented a host of science programmes and films including the series Trust Me, I’m A Doctor, which looked at healthcare in Britain.

He also carried out many unusual experiments on himself within these shows, including eating a black pudding made with his own blood and injecting snake venom to see how his blood clotted in the BBC documentary The Wonderful World Of Blood.

Mosley appeared as a guest on BBC’s The One Show and ITV’s This Morning many times and hosted other programmes including Medical Mavericks; Blood And Guts; Science Story; The Young Ones; Inside The Human Body; Eat, Fast Live And Longer; The Truth About Exercise; Pain, Pus & Poison and The Genius Of Invention.

In 2002, he was nominated for an Emmy for his executive producer role on BBC science documentary The Human Face, presented by John Cleese and featuring celebrities including Elizabeth Hurley, Pierce Brosnan and Sir David Attenborough.

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Other programmes he executively produced for the BBC include Pompeii – The Last Day; Krakatoa Revealed; Life Before Birth and Supervolcano.

He is credited with popularising the 5:2 diet, a form of intermittent fasting, through his book The Fast Diet which he co-authored with journalist Mimi Spencer.

Mosley later advocated for The Fast 800 diet, which follows a “moderately low-carb, Mediterranean-style diet”, writing a book and several cookbooks with his wife Clare Bailey Mosley, herself a GP and health columnist.

In 2015, he was given the Naomi Sargant Educational award by members of Voice of the Listener & Viewer (VLV), a consumer group which champions public service broadcasting.

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Mosley also made programmes for Channel 4, including one which looked at why the UK is losing its battle with obesity after 30 years of government schemes trying to tackle the issue, and a weight loss show called Lose A Stone In 21 Days With Michael Mosley.

He and Dr Bailey Mosley had four children, Alexander, Jack, Daniel and Katherine.

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