Last Night's TV: None of them were over the Moonie

My Big Fat Moonie Wedding, Channel 4

Binge Britain: Diet

You can build quite a good programme on the basis of the phrase "Do you remember x? Wonder what happened to them?" Naturally, it helps if x is a bit eye-catching to begin with, and there are few things that snare the eye quite like a bride and groom, particularly if they're multiplied several thousandfold, as they were when the Reverend Sun Myung Moon decided to conduct the world's biggest mass wedding in New York in 1982. On 1 July of that year, 4,000 obedient devotees traipsed into Madison Square Garden and pledged their troth to the soul mate that the Reverend Moon had selected for them, setting aside erotic chemistry and the conventions of love to do their bit to bring about a sinless world. "If I was an outsider, I would have said, 'Those people are out of their minds completely,'" said Forrest Wright, a man still glumly yoked to a life partner chosen for him by a dumpy Korean tax dodger with a messiah complex. Very big "if" that, and one I suspect Forrest is still pining over.

By his own account in the documentary My Big Fat Moonie Wedding, Forrest hadn't exactly been overwhelmed when first told that Anna, a bonily sombre Dutch woman, was to be his wife. Already unnerved by the fact that the Reverend Moon's marital lottery offered no appeal process, he also seemed wary of European dentistry. "I didn't say it," he recalled, "but the first thought that came to mind was, 'Let me check your teeth.'" Anna, to be fair, wasn't all that thrilled either... and judging from the archive film of the event, she wasn't alone. A line of decidedly queasy-looking people filed warily through a kind of spiritual car wash, with the Reverend Moon and his wife sprinkling them with holy water as they passed. And the worst thing was that this was the fun bit. Those hoping to consummate their marriages (not everyone was utterly dismayed by their blind date) soon discovered that they would have to be patient. First they were instructed to beat one another on the buttocks with what the Reverend Moon called the "indemnity stick" and then they were forbidden to have sex for up to three years.

Even when the big night came, it was something of a strain, the lucky couple having to follow a complicated set of instructions about pre-coital ablutions and mid-coital positioning. For two nights, the women were on top and taking control, and for the third in an attempt to overturn the fatal dominion of Eve the husband reasserted control. Sustaining carnal appetite under these conditions was not easy, and not helped by the instruction that a large photograph of Moon had to be placed so that it could oversee the event. After everything was over, the participants had to wipe themselves with the Holy Handkerchief, an unusual family heirloom that was to be preserved, unlaundered, for the rest of their lives. Rummaging through their bridal clothes, Anna and Forrest discovered their Holy Hankies in a polythene bag, a moment that didn't appear to fill them with gladsome, giggly nostalgia. It would have been nice to have a tiny bit more about the Reverend Moon's continuing contacts with Republican politics and the Religious Right, but even without that, this was a strangely compelling film, the standard derangement that underlies all religions amplified until even the faithful could see how mad it looked.

In Binge Britain: Diet Doctors Special, super-fit athletes are invited to sample the couch-potato life in the interests, I take it, of couch-potato health education. This week, it was the turn of Katharine Merry, a former Olympic 400m runner. "Katharine is going to have to binge drink two bottles of wine every three days, all in the name of science," announced the voiceover, a line that prompted a double-barrelled exclamation in our house. First barrel: "You're not seriously calling that a binge!" Second barrel: "How come science takes the rap rather than television, which actually procured the crime." Like most Olympic athletes, Katharine was a rather driven personality, so instead of parcelling her ration out over three days, which would have been more manageable, she downed two bottles in one night. The next day she felt crap, which was hardly surprising given that she's normally teetotal. If an ordinary punter went out and ran a 10K race without any preparation, they would feel terrible too. What she needed to do was train a bit more carefully and build up to the big events slowly. Shortly after her first bout with the bottle, she was put on a course of antibiotics and had to give up drinking entirely, although she did return to the programme later, establishing with a simplicity that any prohibitionist would have been proud of that alcohol coarsens the skin, enfeebles the spirit and debilitates the body. Personally, I think she was just going cold turkey from her rather serious exercise addiction, but that thought is not in line with current government health advice.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas