London Weekend Television is developing Can We Still Be Friends? - a Nineties version of the Seventies quiz Mr and Mrs.
In the programme, which was originally to be called The Ex-Files, old flames and divorced couples have to answer questions about each other, "with daggers drawn" according to the programme's makers.
Two ex-couples will compete against each other to answer "wicked" questions such as: "What was the name of the first woman he was unfaithful to you with?"
The ex-couple that knows most about each other's unreasonable behaviour will then go into a head-to-head final. In a cruel twist, once one of the couple wins, their former partner will get to choose the winner's prize for them. They will be able to pick for their ex a holiday in Bali, a shuttle full of coal, or a mystery prize. "It is a beautiful thing," said Humphrey Barclay, head of comedy at LWT. But he added: "There could be an element of cruelty in this."
Both Channel 4 and ITV are interested in broadcasting the show but the level of bitterness may depend on what time it goes out. "Channel 4 is interested in a rude, bitter re-union," said Mr Barclay. "But we're wondering if it isn't a new Blind Date with ITV potential." If Can We Still Be Friends? goes to Channel 4 it will include gay and lesbian couples to give it a truly Nineties feel.
Mr Barclay denied that the programme would exploit the fact that one in three marriages in Britain end in divorce: "It's all in defence of the family," he said. "It's terribly moral, we would like them to get back together and even go on the prize holiday together."
"The aaaaahhhs from the audience will be overwhelming if the winner decides to take their former partner with them."
The programme is the idea of the stand-up comedian John Malone but LWT has yet to sign up a presenter. Mr Barclay is considering using the camp comedian and Perrier Award nominee Graham Norton who Mr Barclay said is a "brilliant ad-libbing guy".
A pilot show is planned for the Autumn and is being developed by the LWT director Crispin Leyser.
Mr Barclay believes couples will be happy to come on the show and get their skeletons out of the closet. He hopes to find what he describes as "the juicy couples you get on Blind Date". Although he admitted: "It's got a bit more edge than Cilla Black."Reuse content