Inside Television: A singles show that's just my type

 

In 1978, a young woman named Cheryl agreed to appear as
“bachelorette” on The Dating Game, a forerunner to our own Blind Date
which aired on US television throughout the seventies and eighties.

After exchanging the usual cheeky innuendos with three male contestants, Cheryl was set up with ‘Bachelor #1’, a man with long wavy hair by the name of Rodney. When the cameras stopped rolling Cheryl declared Rodney ‘creepy’ and refused to go on a date with him. As it later transpired, ‘creepy’ was the least of her worries. Unbeknownst to the show’s producers, Rodney Alcala was a serial killer who had already murdered four women by the time of his TV appearance. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.

Thankfully the contestant screening process for dating shows have become more rigorous since 1978, but while the format pioneered by The Dating Game has evolved, true compatibility remains way down the average producer’s checklist. They’re still much more interested in gym-toned bodies, cheesy chat-up lines and amusing party tricks than they are in creating lasting love.

Take, for example, BBC Three’s new dating show Sexy Beasts which this Tuesday introduced us to Bethany, 21, and her three unsuitable suitors. The format takes one half-decent romantic principle - it’s what’s inside that counts - and extends it ad absurdum, by requiring daters to obscure their faces with prosthetic monster masks. Or how about Sky Living’s Dating in the Dark, which, inspired by similar thinking, located dates in a pitch-black room. To repurpose a phrase from ITV’s equally silly Take Me Out, “No lighty, no likey”.

This hopeless romantic believes the best dating shows should offer genuine dating opportunities, unavailable in everyday life. Do you remember Streetmate (it’s still on 4oD, if not), in which a bouncy Davina McCall introduced strangers who’d never approach each other otherwise? There was also Perfect Match, which thoughtfully asked the singleton’s mother, best friend and ex-boyfriend to collaborate as matchmakers. First Dates, which returned to Channel 4 for a second series this week is definitely in this nobler tradition.

It’s a dating show, but it’s also a fly-on-the-wall documentary, set in a restaurant where all the diners are couples on their very first date. As such, not only do the singles get matched, but we all get an insight into how dates go wrong. Tendency to bang on about your ex? Bad table manners? Too much dirty talk, too soon? First Dates brings all these faux pas to the fore, and still there’s hope for romance. That’s because after the show, viewers are invited to text in and request to meet any failed first-dater with whom they feel they might have a connection. So, you see, there’s someone out there for everyone this Valentine’s - and, moreover, there’s a dating show to suit all tastes too. 

And the award for most annoying television goes to...

This week several million punishment gluttons will tune in to watch the BAFTAs on BBC One and the Brits on ITV. Despite the fact that, like all televised award ceremonies, these shows will be overlong, full of smug in-jokes, and available in handy GIF-form by morning. 

It’s not that awards ceremonies aren’t fun. They’re fun for the nominees having their egos stroked, lots of fun for the host paid six figures to recycle below-par stand-up gags and buckets of fun for the industry big wigs necking free booze. In fact, the only people not having fun are the people watching it on television. It’s like turning up outside a house party you weren’t invited to, just so you can peek through the gap in the curtains. Have some self-respect and watch Dragon’s Den on BBC 2, instead.

CATCH UP

Southland, 4oD

Nothing says “I love you, but I don’t love cheesy candlelit dinners” like a Valentine’s night crime drama marathon for two. Kick off with connoisseurs choice, Southland, an unrelentingly grim tour through the LAPD’s battle-scarred urban landscape. The fifth and final series began on More4 this Thursday. 

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/southland

Suspects, Demand 5

Kudos to Channel 5. Their first original drama series in eight years is a procedural purist’s dream come true. Expect no maverick cops and no messy home-lives, Suspects is just a pacy, naturalistic portrait of cop shop open for business. Fay Ripley, in particular, is excellent as the no-nonsense commanding officer, DI Bellamy.

http://www.channel5.com/shows/suspects

Babylon, 4oD

Armstrong and Bain’s new police force dramedy wasn’t without its tonal mis-steps, but there were enough great actors and great lines to justify a revisit when the full series starts later this year. The question is, what did the Met’s real comms department make of their on-screen equivalent?

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/babylon/4od

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Demand 5

You have to wonder about the mental health of the Law & Order:SVU writing team. Coming up with a new grisly crime week after week must take it’s toll on the psyche, yet, twelve series in, and this show is still brimming with nasty invention. Actor Christopher Meloni will be missed when he bows out at the end of this season, but you can hardly blame him for needing a break.

http://www.channel5.com/shows/law-order-special-victims-unit/episodes/bullseye-4

Arts and Entertainment
Just folk: The Unthanks

music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne with his Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rowan Atkinson is bringing out Mr Bean for Comic Relief

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea