BBC to make dating show controlled by children

The BBC came under fire yesterday for reneging on a pledge to ditch reality television after it commissioned a dating show from the makers of
Wife Swap in which children will pick potential partners for their single mothers or fathers.

The BBC came under fire yesterday for reneging on a pledge to ditch reality television after it commissioned a dating show from the makers of Wife Swap in which children will pick potential partners for their single mothers or fathers.

In Date My Mum... Date My Dad, the children will use speed-dating techniques to whittle a group of hopefuls down to two candidates, who will each spend a trial weekend with the family to assess whether they fit in.

Although the BBC denies the programme is a copycat formula, there are striking similarities with Wife Swap, the Channel 4 show in which women exchange husbands and families for a week.

Politicians expressed concern after the announcement that BBC1 controller Lorraine Heggessy had comissioned six 30-minute episodes of the dating show. Chris Bryant, Labour MP for Rhondda and a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said: "I just wonder whether we all pay a licence fee to see yet more people pour out their emotional entrails on the kitchen table for us all to gawp at. I thought the BBC had put this behind it."

Don Foster, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on culture and media, questioned whether the show was in the spirit of pledges made by the BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, to abandon reality television and entertainment shows that do not have a strong public service element in favour of programmes of "excellence".

"This is hugely disappointing and frankly daft of the BBC to be entering into this, given the comments made by Mark Thompson about how they are going to move away from derivative content and ideas. Here we have got another derivative show exploiting individuals' weaknesses. The public don't want more of this stuff," Mr Foster said.

In a speech at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in August, Mr Thompson promised to weed out lifestyle and light entertainment programmes that do not have a strong public service element. He said: "In genres where the BBC does not have a paramount mission ... we have to be very sure that we really are adding something distinctive and original and valuable within each genre." He also warned of "a temptation to give in to the derivative and the tired - to move away from public value".

A BBC spokeswoman insisted that the dating show was an entirely different concept from Wife Swap, although it was being made by the same independent production company, RDF Media. "It's a different show. It's from the same company, but the whole ethos behind it is different, the spokeswoman said. "The element of someone moving in is simply for a weekend, whereas Wife Swap is for an entire week. We would dispute that it is derivative and we would dispute that it is reality television."

Grant Mansfield, the show's executive producer, who also worked on Wife Swap, said the two programmes were very different, not least because Date My Mum ... Date My Dad would be broadcast pre-watershed when it goes on air next spring. "I think this is distinctive and original," said Mr Mansfield, a divorced father. He said he expected the show would be suitable viewing for his 11-year-old son.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Database Executive - Leading Events Marketing Company - London

£23000 - £25000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Databas...

Recruitment Genius: Publishing Assistant

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Digital Account Exec ...

Guru Careers: Print Project Manager

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Print Project Manager is needed to join one...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk