Educational TV as part of large health literacy campaign in Portugal

The finalists in this year’s MEDEA Awards have just been announced, you can read about them here, the winner will be announced in October. Each month we are featuring one or more of this year’s finalists. In this article it is the turn of Nuno Teixeira Marcos and his colleagues from Ipatimup/i3S from University of Porto in Portugal who submitted 2’ Life changing minutes.

2’ Life changing minutes is a novel proposal for health education about cancer, created for an era with too much information and short attention spans. Appealing, engaging, grounded on evidence but also entertaining.

About the creation of 2’ Life changing minutes

In 2’ Life changing minutes, we have created the first TV fiction series on health literacy in Portugal – and as far as we know – in the world. This TV series was created as a stepping stone to a larger health campaign, a national broad transmedia initiative designed for television, web, social networks, mobile, classrooms and local public events, tailored with specific approaches for each media and/or public.

Created from scratch by a multidisciplinary team of researchers, educators, communicators, oncologists, and visual artists, stemming from the bubbling ecosystem of a world-class cancer research institute, this project is a work of interface between science, education and creative media. With few references to go by, our team designed a new format with unconventional approaches: an exclusive focus on practical prevention guidelines that anyone can follow, use of the power of fiction and narrative storytelling to engage the audience, adopting a light and informal tone, even using humour when appropriate but never compromising scientific rigor, making all educational content as widely accessible as possible, with all materials suitable for classroom use.

This was the first time a health TV show was aired on prime-time in Portugal and in the first channel of the public broadcast network (RTP1), running daily for 1 month. It had an audience of 3 million different viewers – that’s almost 1/3 of Portugal’s population! -, with an average 374 thousand viewers per episode and an average share of 8,0%.

Resources were limited, the teams and workflow were unconventional, the format was different from anything aired before, with many challenges, but the team forged ahead fueled by the belief of conquering new ground for health education. Shot in 53 locations, with a film crew of over 40 people, with 94 characters played by 29 actors and 87 extras, ot was a mammoth challenge and a work of love. All in 2’ Life changing minutes.

About our team

Our core team at Ipatimup/i3S which is part of the University of Porto in Portugal was made up of science communicator, Luís Carvalho; graphic designer, Paulo Gomes; postdoctoral researcher, Nuno Ribeiro and myself, Nuno Teixeira Marcos, coordinator of the project.


Luís Carvalho
Paulo Gomes
Nuno Ribeiro
Nuno Teixeira Marcos

Ipatimup/i3S, University of Porto