TV review: Why Am I Still Single? First Cut, Channel 4

Dates, Channel 4

Judging from Naomi's Twitter page wallpaper, she isn't a shy woman. It consists of a shot of Naomi from behind wearing only a pair of black knickers. As if she was worried that this might not be inviting enough, she's also peeling the fabric back from her right buttock to reveal the phrase "Chaos and order" tattooed across the top of a cheek.

It's a bold look, but it doesn't exactly suggest that what Naomi wants most in the world is to climb off the sexual carousel and settle down with Mr Right. As it happens, though, that's exactly what she longs for, which is why she'd agreed to surrender what little privacy she retains by taking part in Why Am I Still Single?, the latest contribution to Channel 4's relationships season.

The idea is that two unwilling singletons swap lives, poking through each other's dirty laundry to try and work out why nothing's quite clicked yet. Quite why they're regarded as better qualified for such an analysis than someone who has actually pulled the trick off, I'm not sure, but television producers are as susceptible to the allure of symmetry as the rest of us, so Naomi's other half for the purpose of this exercise was Lex, who similarly yearns to become half of a couple rather than the whole of a lad about town. Essentially, he had to work out why someone wouldn't stay the course with her while she performed the same service for him.

Naomi can't be faulted for lack of effort. "In the last four years, I've been on 120 dates," she said. The fact that you're counting might be one clue, Naomi. There's nothing quite as unnerving as the pheromones of desperation, which she also tends to waft about her by a willingness to start the sex talk within a sentence or two. She even did it to Lex, leaving a note for him pinned down by a plastic dog turd: "Please don't masturbate in my bed," it read, an instruction that Lex declared he was going to ignore. Naomi is a part-time stand-up, so I think this was a sample of her comedy stylings.

All of this lairiness, you eventually discovered, was a front, concealing a romantic soul who (pop psychology klaxon) was looking to compensate for paternal abandonment and parental divorce. When Naomi went to talk to Lex's first serious girlfriend, she burst into tears when she heard an extract from one of his love letters ("I've never had a letter like that written to me") and she later confessed that she was still carrying a torch for the first real love in her life, a chap called Dave, who got a fierce dressing down from Lex, when it emerged that he was still drawing sexual benefits without properly signing on.

I'm not sure that either of them learnt a lot from the experience, though Naomi seemed startled to be told that men in search of a loving and long-term relationship might find raunchy small talk unnerving rather than attractive and Lex discovered that he could survive delivering his own stand-up routine, when this was foisted upon him by the producer under the pretence that it would give him a greater insight into Naomi's problems. He also came to the catch-up meeting with a girlfriend. It might have been intriguing to hear from her about how the treatment had worked, but very sensibly she decided on a non-speaking role only.

Dates, Channel 4's mix-and-match drama series, continues to impress. Last night, Stephen (Ben Chaplin) came back for second helpings of the lethal Mia only to get dumped at the last minute and swerve into a flirtation with Heidi. The writing and performances are as sharp as each other and once again it honoured the truth that there aren't a lot of neat endings in life.

twitter.com/tds153

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary