The boom in addictive TV programmes such as Lost and Big Brother is a major contributor to the stresses of modern life according to new scientific study. The experiment, conducted by leading academic Dr Harry Witchel of the University of Bristol reveals the existence of the new phenomenon of "Schedule Stress".

The study commissioned by ntl Telewest to investigate the physiological effects of TV scheduling over using an on demand service, saw a team of volunteers wired up with electrodes while forced to miss an episode of their favourite TV programme, hit show Lost.

The volunteered Lost fans were monitored for a number of physical responses that respond to stress levels including electromyography, heart rate variability, respiratory activity and "galvanic skin response", which measures change in electrical conductivity of the skin. Almost all of the volunteers recorded a massive jump in stress levels when unable to watch an episode then had not seen.

Dr Witchel, who is currently offering his expert analysis of contestants' behaviour on Big Brother, explains: “People really do seem to be suffering from schedule stress. For TV addicts the need to keep that 'appointment to view' adds to the stresses of everyday life in a very physical way”.

Dr Witchel continues: “The stress measurements for all but one of the volunteers rose dramatically when they were denied the show. And the volunteer who showed no signs of stress had in fact made plans to record the show and watch it later!”

Phillip Snalune, managing director, consumer products at ntl Telewest, commented: “Dr Witchel's study confirms what we always suspected, that being tied to the TV schedule and having to diarise your viewing adds to everyday stress. The current boom in unmissable shows like Lost, Desperate Housewives and Dr Who, means life is getting even more stressful!”