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All the backlash Operation Transformation faced before it was axed by RTÉ

RTÉ announced today that Operation Transformation won’t be returning, after 17 seasons.

The broadcaster said they decided to axe the programme following an “editorial review” to ensure their audience is being best served.

While the series gained many fans since its inception, it faced a lot of criticism in recent years.

The series followed five participants as they tried to lose weight and get fit with the expert help of a dietician, fitness instructor and psychologist.

But in recent years, the show garnered mixed reviews, as some viewers claimed it promoted an unhealthy diet culture.

Bodywhys, the eating disorder association of Ireland, also raised concerns over the show.

In a statement shared on social media in January 2022, the organisation claimed the series was “triggering” for those who suffer with disordered eating.

RTÉ defended the show at the time, alongside host Kathryn Thomas, who has fronted the series since 2012.

Last January, Kathryn spoke out about the criticism and confessed: “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bothered, not that I would go in and read all the comments.

“I made a decision years ago not to engage with negative stuff, not to go looking for the trolling and nasty comments, which there is no shortage of.

“The negativity around Operation Transformation last year was well covered outside of social media so, yeah, that did bother me.”

“Operation Transformation is about health and wellbeing and while weight loss is one part, overall it’s a holistic approach to encouraging and helping people to lead longer, healthier and happier lives.”

The TV presenter explained: “When the team looked into the criticism, the majority of people speaking out against the show hadn’t seen it for the last four to five years.”

“Operation Transformation has evolved and, yes, it was very weight-centric when it started out, but we are going into season 16.”

“There are 373,000 people watching the show on average, that is a 32.5% audience share which is unheard of for any show in Ireland, if not Europe. Those are the facts, so the Irish audience wants to watch and engage with the show.”

In their statement today, RTÉ said the series had “evolved considerably over the years with recent series encompassing a more holistic approach to adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well as losing weight.”

The series, which kicked off in 2008, initially saw presenter Gerry Ryan select hopefuls on his RTÉ 2FM radio show, following them as they attempted to reshape and reboot their lives, guided by experts in the fields of nutrition, weight loss and psychology.

In 2012, Kathryn started presenting the show, and made it her own with her empathetic and motivational approach.

Over the course of the series there have been dozens of leaders from all over Ireland, bidding to improve their health and wellbeing and checking in on a weekly basis with the panel of experts, inspiring thousands of viewers at home to follow their lead.

In recent series, leaders underwent a weekly health check-in where various additional health indicators were monitored including Upper Body Strength, Balance, Lower Body Strength and Cardiovascular as well as Hydration, Blood Pressure, Metabolic Age, Weight, General Health, Nutrition, and Movement.

The final series of the show, which aired earlier this year, featured leaders Michelle Rogan, Darragh Fitzgerald, Anne Cushen, Noel O’Connell, and Edel O’Malley.

The leaders were ably assisted by clinical psychologist Dr. Eddie Murphy, Coru Registered Dietician Sophie Pratt, general practitioner Dr Sumi Dunne and fitness expert Karl Henry.

Grainne McAleer, Commissioning Editor, RTÉ, said: “We’d like to extend a huge thank you to all of the leaders who have participated in the series over the past 17 seasons and to the public who engaged with the series in huge numbers across Ireland. We are proud of the positive impact the show has had on individuals and communities across the country, but feel it’s time to refresh and renew our offering to the audience.”

“I’d also like to thank the experts, past and present, who have been so dedicated to Operation Transformation and to guiding participants on their wellness journey. I’d particularly like to pay tribute to Kathryn Thomas who took up the reins from Gerry Ryan and really made the show her own.

“Her empathy for the leaders and her commitment to the show really connected with audiences. RTÉ have a number of exciting projects fronted by Kathryn in development at the moment and look forward to bringing them to audiences in the near future.”

Grainne continued: “Finally, a big thank you to VIP Productions and Philip Kampff who have steered this very big ship so well over the past seventeen years and all the production staff and many crew who travelled the length and breadth of the country for OT.”.

Sarah O’Callaghan appeared on Operation Transformation in 2018 | RTÉ

Presenter Kathryn Thomas said: “It has been an incredible privilege to be a part of Operation Transformation for the past 14 years and I am so so proud of the legacy the show is leaving behind.

“To be able to shine a national spotlight on the importance of looking after our health through our amazing leaders, ordinary people living ordinary lives, who opened up their hearts and homes in the most extraordinary ways.”

“Every single one of you inspired me. And I learnt so much from all our incredible experts down through the years too. It’s been one hell of a journey!

“I know there will be so many people who will miss OT when January rolls around. I will too!! But keep the momentum going in your communities, your GAA clubs, your local Park Runs, That is where the support is when you need it.”

“I, for one, will continue to vocalise the importance of prioritising health wherever I can too. Thank you to RTÉ for trusting me at the helm for all these years and I look forward to the exciting new projects ahead in 2025.”

Philip Kampff, Managing Director at Vision Independent Productions said: “VIP would like to thank all the people who have shared their journey as leaders on Operation Transformation, in doing so we know they have inspired many to take positive steps to a healthier life.

“VIP will continue to work with the friends we have made in the GAA, Sport Ireland, The School of Health & Human Performance at DCU and the local Sport Partnerships in County Councils across the country who together created a powerful movement every January and February to encourage people to improve their physical and mental health”.

RTÉ also confirmed they will announce a new series for January 2025 later in the year.


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