The Undateables, Channel 4 - TV review: Matthew's date measures up

Nothing gives you the warm and fuzzies like that moment when a well-matched couple hit it off for the first time

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The Independent Culture

Three years on, and the uneasiness that accompanied the first series of The Undateables has all but evaporated. Yes, that title is crass, and the potential for "freak show" style prurience is ever-present, but this is Channel 4; provocation is what they do. When it's done well, as is usually the case in The Undateables, it increases the visibility of people with disabilities and the diversity on television in general and that's all to the good.

In the opening episode of this new series, we met Alex, an infectiously enthusiastic 21-year-old who loves cars, has a brilliant 1970s footballer haircut and is also autistic. His autism can make him nervous around new people, particularly attractive women. "The words are just, like, stuck down in my vocal cords. I'm like, 'Come on out! Come on out!'"

Matthew, a 31-year-old Londoner, had similar problems with communication, due to a stammer. He said he'd compensated for a lack of control over his speech by exercising total control over his body. Now he's a gym enthusiast and professional artist's model with the body of an Adonis.

 

He also had some weirdly specific physical requirements of any prospective partner: "I like them to have 16 inches from shoulder to shoulder." I suspect most women would find this predilection a bigger barrier to intimacy than the stammer, especially since Matthew takes his tape measure out on dates. Luckily, his date Jessica measured up (literally) and Matthew was instantly besotted.

Ah, love! Nothing gives you the warm and fuzzies like that moment when a well-matched couple hit it off for the first time and like First Dates, Take Me Out or Blind Date, The Undateables occasionally has the good fortune to capture that on camera. Only Daniella, a 27-year-old outdoorsy type from Oxfordshire, missed out on her romcom ending, but there's no need to worry for her.

She feared the Apert syndrome that affects the shape of her face, hands and feet would render her instantly unattractive. Not so, and while ultimately they didn't hit it off in this instance, that was only because her date's conversation wasn't quite up to Daniella's sparkling standards.

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