Grace Dent on TV: The Bachelor, Channel 5 - Reviews - TV & Radio - The Independent

Grace Dent on TV: The Bachelor, Channel 5

These women are ready to love Spencer from Chelsea forever. They just haven't met him yet

After the success of last year's series of The Bachelor – where girls competed for the hand (the pecs, the gonad district and the cash collateral) of Gavin Henson – the show's return for a second series, now with Spencer Matthews from Made in Chelsea, was much anticipated.

OK, it was "anticipated" by about 18 people, and by 750,000 other viewers it was "stumbled upon at Friday pub closing time by people not quite arsed enough to pull all the sofa cushions off and find the remote… is that cat asleep on it, go on, move the cat… oh sod it let's just watch this bachelor thing". Worse still, the show runs after Channel 5's version of Big Brother. Oh those poor anonymous buggers all sat in a house playing up for the cameras and no-one caring. God bless their souls. These days Big Brother is less a reality show, more an in-depth televised experiment in MDF soundproof-ability.

Last year's The Bachelor, it must be said, was a real success, with affable clot Gavin Henson finding love everlasting with Carianne Barrow. Delightful Carianne stuck with Gavin just long enough to harvest strong anecdotal material about his sex technique, leg-shaving routine and issues with intimacy to furnish a number of trashy-mag exclusives. It was like movie love. Obviously, a sane person would have pointed out that Gavin – who was fresh from his marriage to Charlotte Church and was therefore possibly in that zombie-like Walking Dead freshly divorced state – was not a good candidate for a televised Cupid-hunt. But the trouble with sane people is they're enormous buzzkills. If sane people had their way in TV then Embarrasing Bodies, where folk too shy to show their anal prolapse to a GP instead fling their ankles behind their ears and Skype the nation bum-cheeks akimbo, would not exist at all. Sane people would notice that The Voice's spin-off UK tour had been cancelled due to levels of public boredom and replaced series two with a more feel-good, cost-effective webcam of a basket of six-week-old kittens discovering wool.

Thus, The Bachelor, mark two, with "him, y'know wotsit, the posh one out of Britain's third-best structured reality show, no not Hugo, the other one" is returned and continues to thrill. The Bachelor series three began many months ago in a production team's mind when someone in a headset on a coffee-break began writing down a wishlist of "men daft enough to sign up for series two of The Bachelor after what happened to Gav. At the top of the wish list would be, I'll venture, men in the league of Tom Hiddleston (Loki from The Avengers) and David Gandy (male supermodel, seemingly only ever clad only in white underpants), followed by "men who have big tax bills", "virtually unknown, unskilled but pretty", "men who will probably sexually assault someone but we can increase the chaperoning budget", "totally gay but is prepared to blur the issue", and, under all these, "David Van Day: only call in absolute emergency".

Having located a bachelor, the production team then audition for 24 young women prepared to love him forever. It's a big ask – as the girls have no idea who the individual is – but after a short sojurn in a C5 harpy-holding-pen a lustful mass-hysteria envelopes the sorority. Then they're prepared, if need be, to rain down hammer blows amongst each other's real Eastern European hair extensions just for a chance of some face time with him ("Y'know, him? Thingy, no not him off Geordie Shore, the other one, Spencer who's dating Louise in Made in Chelsea, only he says he's not now"). Fascinatingly, only one girl, Renay Louise, on catching sight of Spencer for the first time, looked crestfallen and said he just wasn't her type, that the chemistry wasn't there. A mere 24 hours later, Renay had breathed in enough surplus stupid from the other females to now believe Spencer was worth the fight.

In episode one, the girls were presented to Spencer one by one, employing all methods of subtle seduction from "belly dancing", "simpering", and "informing him they make a good pasty", to the timeworn hit, "hinting strongly they're quite mucky in bed". In episode two: a sexy photo shoot, a helicopter date, a luxury catamaran outing, then the "rose ceremony" where unsuitable birds are turfed off leaving 13 warring women, some of whom now profess to be "genuinely in love". I cannot summon up umbrage to be offended by the image of womenhood portrayed in The Bachelor.

If you can't be a good example, the adage goes, be a terrible warning, and these women are a veritable parable to teenage girls on the perils of inhaling shellac-nail fumes and not paying attention at school because, "look at that Coleen Rooney, she's got all them lovely shoes and she probs only has to put out for that fella that looks like a potato, what twice a month tops?". The hunt continues…

Very good BBC3 comedies in the iPlayer Feed My Funny series: People Just Do Nothing with MC Sniper and Kurupt FM, and Dawson Bros Funtime. So good they took my mind off "summer"

Grace’s marmalade dropper

Very good BBC3 comedies in the iPlayer Feed My Funny series: People Just Do Nothing with MC Sniper and Kurupt FM, and Dawson Bros Funtime. So good they took my mind off “summer”.

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