The Undateables, Channel 4, Episode 1: awkard, interesting, thought-provoking TV


No, this blog is not becoming a TV-only-deal. Don’t worry, keep coming back and you won’t find me discussing a conspiracy storyline surrounding the tragic death of Heather in Eastenders (Hev! And actually she was murdered and it was terrible, so don’t say Eastenders is crap and it’s a waste of time), or a terrorist-transexual plot which threatens to blow Coronation Street’s already hopelessly volatile world apart (these are things you’re probably not familiar with if you live outside the UK, I guess. And if you are, surely there are better uses for illegal technology capable of stealing hundreds of channels? Just a thought).

It’s just that usually, TV shows are a let-down, and when it came to epidsode 1 of The Undateables — a show which, as suggested in the previous blog post to this, had caused lots of controversy in the media — it certainly wasn’t; at least, in my opinion. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it was and is essential viewing. Ah, the beauty of having your own blog where you can say whatever you like, un-edited…

Usually, before I post a review of a TV show, film or whatever, I’ll check out a few other reviews first and see what the general consensus is. I imagine you’re probably now thinking this is so I can cheat and gather some much needed information, shame on you, or so that I don’t need to take the precious time to form my own opinion; why not just steal someone else’s instead? And you’d be right, although not about the not-forming-my-own-opinion part, which I find is one of the best things about being a human being. The point is, I usually check out other reviews because I forget names and things quickly, and besides that, it’s always worth checking out the general consensus. Firstly, it throws more ideas in my face which I can then mull over along with my initial thoughts, and secondly, it really helps if I fell asleep while watching the show and failed to get any idea of what the hell it was actually about. As I’m sure readers who have a fond memory of stealing the answers from fellow students’ exams papers at school will know, you can never have too much information (note: even if it very much sounds like it, does not condone stealing, even though Chris once saw a documentary on pick-pocketing and it genuinely is a fine art).

This time, however, things are different: I haven’t looked at any reviews yet; no websites, no other opinions. Which means this could go one of three ways: 1) I’ll be wildly out-of-tune with the rest of the world’s thoughts, not that I give a monkey’s 2) I’ll be in-tune and this review will contain the same boring crap as every other, or 3) The Undateables never really existed and is actually an ingenious figment of my imagination, formed from a powerful intake of TV over the years and a want for more shows which tackle issues like this. Let’s hope it’s one of the first two.

Onto this episode 1, then, which followed the perils and delights — yes, there were a few — of the dating experience for three unique individuals: Luke is a 23-year-old stand-up comedian from Merseyside — he has Tourettes and an involuntary tick which makes him uncontrollably shout things like “filthy slag!” or “Dirty whore!” Always with exclamation marks, that’s not just me adding them. And then we move swiftly on to Penny, 23, whos brittle-bones disease — it’s a genetic disorder — and penchant for dangerous, high-flying trapeze antics must have threatened to bring the entire building at Channel 4 to simultaneous viewing-figures climax. Lastly, the show’s rich diversity was finished off nicely with Richard, a 37-year-old Aspergers sufferer and self-professed amateur radio enthusiast who you’d have to have the patience of a genuine saint to eat an entire dinner with. And by amateur radio enthusiast I do mean massive geek with CB Radio obsession. As far as I’m aware, you’re still allowed to have a disability and be a geek, right? Maybe that’s just me.

With such a collection of individuals on one show — each in the series will follow 3 people — it’s not surprising that a few hundred-thousand people were up in arms about exploitation, ranting and raving like a collective imagining of Harry Enfield’s Kevin The Teenager (if you’re too young or foreign, Google it) . The name really didn’t help; many said it only added further weight to the (alleged) belief of many that disabled people are un-date-able. I say what a load of old bollocks. If all the episodes continue in the same vein as this one, then all that Channel 4 are guilty of is a bit of sensationalism.

Aspergers answer to James Bond: Richard

I haven’t yet mentioned what happened with any of the dates. Now is probably a good time, after all I’d like to keep you here and stop you wandering off to someone else’s review.

Well, Richard was first up, and it was 100% obvious from the moment he started spraying himself in what I suspect was the cheapest of the cheap deodorant — a ritual of his which went on for about 30 seconds, until the cameraman started to choke — that he had his work cut out in enormous ways. Aspergers might be amusing to some, but in reality — and I say this because I have known a few people with it, not because I spray that much cheap deodorant on myself (not that all Aspergers sufferers do…OK, stopping now) — it’s a bloody nightmare. Upon joining the dating agency — as they all had — he had a strict criteria which he couldn’t move on; an unshakeable hall-mark of the condition, it meant that he’d only travel 5 miles to meet a potential life-partner, and would only do so providing the computer could give him a comprehensive route, and his mum could advise on every detail.

That was another issue Richard faced, and one which I imagine most women don’t find appealing: the woman had to be older than him and with familiar traits. Essentially, Richard admitted he wanted to date someone very much like his mum (the sad thing was how creepy it sounded and how essential this was). Characterised by a different way of thinking which goes against the grain of pretty much everyone else on planet earth, having Aspergers really is no laughing matter, yet watching Richard go about arranging a date wasn’t in the least difficult to view. I didn’t even hate myself for watching.

Luke, the Tourettes-suffering-stand-up from Merseyside, couldn’t have been more different. Funny, sociable and with a beard and moustache — come on, everyone should love a beard and moustache — now, here was a man you could eat your dinner with. Providing you could ignore the shits and fucks and BOLLOCKS! that was. What was so great about Luke was his honesty, and this was a theme which ran throughout. None of these people appeared to be after attention, or looking to get a TV deal out of this show. All any of them wanted was to find someone who could love them for who they were and what they are.

Of the 3, Penny was, I think, the most surprising. Never one to play up to a stereotype, her ideal man was literally twice the height and a policeman. What she got, however, was a 5 foot 11″ Cerebral Palsy sufferer with that cool, naturally-spikey blonde hair which would have saved me a lot of time and money — so much gel — back when I was growing up. They didn’t particularly click, but at least Luke got on great with his date, did some ice-skating — mostly on his arse, but still — and Richard had a successful second date (the first didn’t go too well. It began smoothly, but went downhill fast when he decided to eat his date’s dinner without asking her first).

Not that Richard’s date was to lead to another. In a tragic turn of events which must have had at least several million people screaming blue bloody murder at their television sets, he decided against a follow-up with the lovely French lady who had expressed interest to the camera. I nearly cried.

And, with that, here were my top-three favourite bits:

1) When Richard started swearing uncontrollably because his mum’s car had broken down and they needed to call a taxi. It just made me laugh. 1) b) when Richard made a serious show out of flexing his muscles at the French lady in classic old-school strong-man manner. While seated in the restaurant.

2) Luke’s date. She was kind, sweet and understanding. Yes, Luke, YES!

3) Penny deciding she didn’t want to date someone with a disability because she wanted “someone who was a bit more lively.” It made me smile.

Got to watch the rest of them. Head on over to the Episode 2 review here.

One comment on “The Undateables, Channel 4, Episode 1: awkard, interesting, thought-provoking TV

  1. […] the first day – I think – that I didn’t sit down immediately after an episode of The Undateables and write and post my blog. Hopefully the day will come when Channel 4 will have a much-needed […]


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