Finding love is something most of us think about, whether we have it currently or we are thinking about ways to achieve it either through a date academy, online forum or simply by hitting the bars. With this in mind, it seems obvious that we would take interest in TV programmes that show people in the midst of finding someone special (or not as is often the case). Dating programmes have been around for some time, but a recent boom has led to us wondering; are we a nation addicted to love?
Blind Date aired for the first time on 30 November 1985 and was hosted by the legendary Cilla Black. Helped by the infamous voiceover Graham, the show quickly became prime time viewing across the UK. The success of Blind Date, which ran for 18 series before finishing in 2003 has led to a wave of alternative and often extreme dating shows. As Cilla would say, here's our Graham with a quick recap.
Remember the excitable Davina McCall running around city streets desperately trying to match up singletons? Starting in 1998, she would pair up singles looking for love and force them into what would inevitably be an awkward looking impromptu date. A little research suggests that there is no couple together today that met on Street Mate. The series was later presented by Holly Willoughby, perhaps an odd move on behalf of the producers, given that the blokes unquestionably fancied Holly considerably more than plain old Becky from Sheffield.
Take Me Out
Paddy McGuinness hosts this Saturday night show where a gaggle of scantily clad single ladies judge blokes that come out of the 'love lift'. Lights are placed in front of the girls, which are turned off left right and centre as the boys divulge more and more about their lives. The tables are then turned as the girls with their lights on battle it out for the attention of said bloke, who will choose his favourite based on the answers the last two girls give to a hard-hitting question such as "If you had your own perfume, what would you call it?". Deep.
The show has been plagued with controversy, most notably when they allowed a male escort with a criminal conviction to appear as a contestant on the show (a little bit like dropping a shark into tank full of angel fish). Despite this, Take Me Out has proved extremely popular with no sign of being cancelled anytime soon.
There is no secret to the success of The Undateables; heart-warming tales of those who find establishing a love life difficult due to physical or mental disability is certainly the perfect starting point for a winning TV series. Each week, the show concentrates on a couple of "undateables", documenting their journey with a specialist dating agency to find a suitable date. The show has picked up a huge following and has transformed the subjects of the show into celebrities. It's brilliance lies in stripping back the overtly sexual overtones seen in so many of the modern dating programmes, choosing to concentrate on the innocence of finding a soul mate to share life with.
The Year of Making Love
The most recent dating programme to hit our screens is the BBC 3 series The Year of Making Love. The series started by personal-profiling tests conducted on hundreds of participants. Psychologists then analysed the results and paired the participants with people they thought would be a great match. The results were odd and pretty frustrating as we watched 29-year-old Natalie fall under the spell of meat-head Rogan. After a couple of, erm, overnight stays, Natalie was promptly ditched by Rogan and we witnessed her call it a day on the experiment in floods of tears. Unfortunately for Natalie, this is the kind of TV gold we suspect the producers were hoping for.
With TV dating shows seemingly a sure fire way to get great ratings the question remains; why are we so taken with looking at love (or lust) on the small screen? The cynical amongst us would probably argue that the fall outs and heart-breaks are more responsible for the ratings than those who genuinely find love on the set or in 'Fernandos' (spoiler alert: it's Tenerife guys). Whatever the reason, we can expect dating shows to be on our screens for the foreseeable future.