A group of childcare experts have added to calls for Channel 4’s controversial reality show Boys and Girls Alone to be taken off the air.

Some 36 specialists in the field, including child psychologists, paediatricians, educationalists and charities, have signed strong>a letter to The Times alleging that the programme – in which a group of 20 children aged 8-11 have been left to fend for themselves in isolated cottages in Cornwall – contains “child abuse and cruelty”.

Psychologists Oliver James and Penelope Leach are among those who have signed the letter, as well as experts from Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London, and the President of the Centre for Child Mental Health.

The show has also prompted children’s minister Baroness Morgan to call for a review of child emmployment laws.

Lady Morgan has already written to Channel 4 expressing her concerns about the show.

Earlier this week, social services in Cornwall said they were considering legal action to stop the final two shows in the four-part series being screened, after scenes of the children involved fighting and crying were shown in the first two weeks.

The letter to The Times accused the channel of “plumbing new depths in broadcasting”.

However, Channel 4 has defended the show, saying it offered an insight into childhood and parenting, and that the children involved had been screened and supported by a clinical psychologist.

They added that their parents were free to withdraw them at any time.