The Story of BIG G

Episode: The Story of BIG G
Broadcast date: 17 February 2009 at 21h30


In 2009 3rd Degree looked at the story of South Africa’s largest man, Gordon Hartley. Weighing 350 kilograms, Gordon is morbidly obese. His intake of food is enough to feed a family of five and doctors have said that he only has five years to live unless drastic action is taken.

He is in desperate need of gastric bypass surgery, a procedure that will reduce his stomach to the size of an egg, but as yet his medical aid has to come on board.

This documentary explores Gordon’s struggle to overcome his compulsion for food and his pressing need to survive.

Almost fifty percent of adults and twenty-five percent of children in SA are affected by obesity. With such alarming figures, the country is on a par with countries such as the USA and Canada. Obese people are high-risk candidates for diabetes and heart disease.

Third Degree spoke to medical experts about this alarming health crisis sweeping our nation and hears first hand stories from survivors who dramatically lost weight after undergoing gastric bypass operations.







Episode Title: The Soul Beneath The Fat
Broadcast date: 13 October 2009


Gordon Hartley or Big G was South Africa’s heaviest man when he was introduced to viewers on 3rd Degree earlier this (2009) year. He weighed 350kg and his fat was literally killing him.

Despite efforts to get Big G fit and healthy in preparation for gastric bypass surgery, he couldn’t control his eating habits and he ballooned to a massive 440 kilograms. Eventually his body collapsed and he was rushed to ICU. A month later he passed away from chronic heart failure.

What really went on in the months leading to his death? In an exclusive interview, his girlfriend and ex-wife speak out about the man who controlled their every move, who got what he wanted through intimidation and punishment.

He ruled his bizarre family from his bed, deciding what they should wear and what they could spend. Despite his morbidly obese state, the family gave in to his every whim – even when he wanted a six-pack of beer, 36 vetkoek and 20 pastries.


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