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
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Arts and Entertainment
All-new couples 'Come Dine With Me'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne
musicReview: BST Hyde Park, London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart star in Almost Royal burning bright productions
tvTV comedy following British ‘aristos’ is accused of mocking the trusting nature of Americans
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice