Last Night's TV: Snog, Marry, Avoid?, BBC3; Upstairs Downstairs Love, Channel 4; Identical Triplets: Their Secret World, ITV1

You can kiss if you don't make up

As a child I was keenly aware that a great big slice of television was not intended for me. The news, for example, which my parents watched with rapt attention night after night even though the stories were always the same: war in Northern Ireland, war in Vietnam, war at British Leyland. That same feeling of disenfranchisement descended on me, for the first time since 1969, as I sat through Snog, Marry, Avoid?, billed as the world's first "make-under" show, in which Jenny Frost – a former pop star with Sugar Girls or Atomic Kitchen, I forget which – introduced a pair of young women "hiding under layers and layers of slap" and in urgent need of styling advice. No part of this primetime programme, I realised forlornly, was intended for the likes of me, although happily I have a 15-year-old daughter, so I was at least able to enjoy it vicariously. Eleanor loved it.

The idea behind Snog, Marry, Avoid? (although "idea" might be pitching it slightly strongly) is that pictures of women whose fashion and personal grooming enthusiasms would look down-market on an 18-30 holiday are shown to random men on the street, who decide whether they would wish to snog, marry or avoid this person. The notion that men should be encouraged to cast such judgements on women they've never met is more than a little unreconstructed, of course, but Gemma from Kent, whose style icon is Jodie Marsh, and Tamsin from 'uddersfield, whose father treated her to breast enlargements and could hardly come from a more aptly named town, didn't seem to feel patronised. Instead, they were appalled that almost all the blokes vox-popped gave them a big thumbs down.

They were duly thrown at the mercy of a "computer" called Pod, a daft contrivance that made my teeth itch but which Eleanor thought was perfectly fine. Pod told Gemma, in a silly metallic computer voice, that she looked like a drag-queen with a hangover, which actually hit the nail on the head. Gemma insisted that "I would rather give up my home than my fake tan", but was persuaded to remove all her make-up, ditch the peroxided hair extensions, and wear something that didn't expose quite so many acres of thigh. Inevitably, she looked significantly nicer at the end of this, and had those men in the street now wanting to snog her. The same thing happened to Tamsin. Which I suppose was a triumph of sorts. Eleanor thought so, anyway.

Upstairs Downstairs Love told the true story of another metamorphosis, although Hannah Cullwick, a Victorian servant, was made of sterner stuff than Gemma and Tamsin. Her employer and subsequent husband, a barrister called Arthur Munby, tried to gentrify her, but Hannah was having none of it. She had been raised to scrub floors and sweep chimneys, and thought ladies were idle. When Arthur kept up the pressure, she eventually had a nervous breakdown, and left the marital home to live out her days in Shropshire.

Arthur continued to visit her, but their separation and her decline were desperately sad, because it had been Hannah's working-class brawn and dirty fingernails that had appealed to him in the first place, when he first set eyes on her in a London street in the 1850s. He had what can only be described as a fetish for the horny-handed proletariat, to the extent that, while other Victorian gentlemen collected butterflies, he collected specimens of callouses. According to her diaries, Hannah was quite happy to indulge Arthur's fetishism, and indeed it gave her an erotic charge too. Theirs was an improbably romantic liaison, lasting more than 50 years until her death in 1909. A month later, he followed her to the grave.

In his will, Arthur decreed that their letters and diaries could not be read until 1950. He knew that love across the class divide was incendiary stuff – for those of you old enough to remember the original Upstairs, Downstairs, think Lord Bellamy falling head-over-heels in love with the parlourmaid Ruby – and I suppose it might also have had ramifications for their relatives. One contributor to the programme likened their relationship to a cross-racial romance in England in the 1950s in terms of its power to shock. It's always reassuring to be reminded of the huge social and cultural strides we have made; although anyone who thinks that a class-based apartheid is entirely a thing of the past in Britain wasn't at Royal Ascot last week.

The theme of identity was taken up in a different way in Identical Triplets: Their Secret World. I sat through this for an hour, eventually to be told by the narrator, John Thomson, after all kinds of experts had been on to talk about the identical triplet phenomenon, that "we've discovered that they're alike and unalike in many ways". It was a conclusion that didn't quite repay my investment of time, and after four solid evenings of football on the box, left me pining for a penalty shoot-out.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future