Television Review

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The Independent Culture
"I KNOW how to make people fall in love," claims Alun Jenkins on what could be seen as fairly flimsy evidence. He is a human basketball, spherical and bouncy, with a squeaky voice, and his marriage ended 13 years ago. Although - or perhaps because - he was unable, in the aftermath, to make a person fall in love specifically with him, he started his own dating agency.

The Matchmaker (BBC1) focused on The Executive Club, as this outfit preposterously calls itself. It's based on the south coast, but has an office in posh Pall Mall, where the clients are recruited by Alun. What's in a name (and an address)? Quite a lot, presumably: the richer clients pay thousands of pounds in the fond belief that it will grant them access to some sort of exclusive experiment in social engineering. In fact, the only exclusion clause is ruthlessly eugenic. Men must be over 5ft 6ins "unless there's something exceptional about you"; women must be under 45 and smaller than a size 16. Older women have to pay more to join.

"I cannot re-educate society," squeaks Alun, 5ft 4ins, to his girlfriend Jane, 46. "Let me give you an analogy." Alun is always giving analogies - he lures a grandmother from Essex onto his books by telling her she's a kingfisher with a broken wing. I bet he says that to all the grandmothers. Giving analogies is one of his more attractive features, although not in this instance. "We're like a fruit stall outside Harrods," he says, ever a sucker for a smart postal district. "I can't make people buy my fruit. All I know is that if I have very good quality fruit, people will come to us. You cannot sell bananas that have gone off." He ought to work that up into a company motto. The Executive Club: ripe bananas, and melons to die for.

Alun's key client is Wynford, a Welsh self-made millionaire with narrow eyes in his forties, who spends his leisure hours forlornly patrolling the waters of Mallorca in his motor cruiser. The Executive Club set him up on a date with Leonora, a plummy blonde estate agent who blow-dries her dog's fur, and filmed them glugging champagne. "Chaars," said Leonora, raising her flute. "Mmm. Delish!" Wynford grew up a member of the Plymouth Brethren - no TV, no radio, and certainly no motor cruisers, but in his romanticised account of his childhood, he didn't mention that to Leonora. She'd have run a mile.

The Matchmaker is not a docu-soap in any ordinary sense. Alun hams it up for the camera, but that's because he more or less presents the programme. He may not actually know how to make people fall in love - who the hell does? - but he knows how to make them believe they are going to fall in love, and pay accordingly. And now he's advertising on the BBC. At the licence-payer's expense.

The Adam and Joe Show (C4) has its fans, but I don't think I'm one of them. The hugely detailed re-enactment of Saving Private Ryan with cuddly toys was accurate mainly because, at approximately four minutes, it felt like it went on forever. A third series of bedsit juvenilia, with Adam's old man - or is it Joe's? - filing reports from the frontiers of hip youth, feels like a commission too far. Do they have any other jokes in them?

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