Married at First Sight, Channel 4, TV review: Here comes the bride...and the divorce lawyers are lining up

Five experts try to make perfect matches in Channel 4’s new dating documentary

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The Independent Culture

If you remember the fuss surrounding the very first series of Big Brother, back in the summer of 2000, you’ll know there was once a time, albeit a very short time, when reality TV as “social experiment” was a notion broadcasters took seriously. Married at First Sight, Channel 4’s new dating documentary, harks back to that more innocent age. Here are 1,500 eligible single people and five experts all determined to make some perfect matches, and not a fame-hungry exhibitionist among them.

The premise (which originated in Denmark, and has already been turned into two successful American series) is that a couple’s compatibility can be determined by science. To that end, Married At First Sight’s volunteers have filled in lengthy questionnaires, submitted to psychological interviews and given saliva samples for DNA testing. From the results of these tests, the experts came up with three perfect matches. So confident are they in this matchmaking method, that the first time the couple lay eyes on one another it will be their wedding day. They’ll then have a honeymoon and five weeks of cohabitation together before deciding whether to call in the divorce lawyers.

Emma, 32, and James, 33, scored in the 100th percentile as a couple and also benefitted from the version of the oxytocin gene which James carries, marking him out, according to evolutionary anthropologist Dr Anna Machin, as someone with an “ability to pair bond and pair bond for a very long time”. Jason, 33, and Kate, 31, have nice “symmetrical” faces (“symmetrical”, we learn, is evolutionary anthropologist code for “proper fit”) and Jack, 30, and Sam, 29, share traditional values as well as a family focus.

Sadly, it turned out Sam was just that bit too traditional; she decided she couldn’t go ahead with marrying a stranger and pulled out of the show after consulting with her family. That left two couples, both of whom, by the end of this first episode, I was desperately rooting for (like Cilla, I’ve already bought a hat). But what if they just don’t fancy each other? Can science account for that? Only next week’s wedding episode will tell.

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