Challenging Attitudes: The Undateables Episode 3 (Channel 4, Tue 17th April 2012, 9pm)

Wake up, they’re just people

If you’re on Facebook or Twitter I am going to hazard a guess and say (maybe) you couldn’t help but have noticed my stream of recent blogs, a number of which concerned Channel 4s controversial new hit-show The Undateables. Don’t panic, I haven’t lost my mind and gone on a Michael-Douglas-in-FallingDown-style blogging rampage. This blog has just been getting a fair amount of hits, that’s all, and besides that, I’m enjoying writing about it. So far it’s been a refreshing and often surreal journey into things which most of us — and judging by the comments left on the Channel 4 Undateables website I think I can vouch for a fair few of us here — rarely think about.

As I have gone on about relentlessly in my last posts pertaining to Episodes 1 and 2 — as well as this post here about attitudes to disability — it’s been, I feel, one of the most enlightening series that Channel 4 have ever come up with. While many were predicting a show akin to some kind of Victorian freakfest — not helped much by the name and lack of explanation about the choice of it, it has to be said — it’s actually been the polar opposite: real people talking mainly not about their issues, but the perils of dating which are universal to us all. It doesn’t matter if you have no arms and no legs or perfect abs, or if you’re an internet sensation with no arms and no legs and perfect abs; dating via an agency is, I can see, a tricky affair, wherever you are on the abs scale — or even if you’re not — which has to involve a few stumbling blocks (and please no emails from anonymous perfectly-abbed people moaning about how it’s actually too easy for them to get dates. If you must, at least leave it in the comments section so we can all hate everything you stand for, rather than just me).

Episode 3, then, will feature a 24-year-old skater called Haydn (a certain boy called Barney has a lot in common with him) who has the little-known Crouzon Syndrome — a condition which has left him half-deaf and in need of a slew of operations over the years. Aided by his twin brother, tonight’s revealing programme will show Haydn trying his hardest to get over his lack of confidence and find himself a girlfriend.

Next up is Kali. Never heard of William’s Syndrome? (I’m going to assume you haven’t, so if you have feel smug, very smug. In fact, it’s really OK to go and boast about it to someone.) No doubt you and I won’t be the only ones out there. 20-year-old Kali’s party-loving screen-time should prove no less interesting, as she enters the dating world and we get to see how this uncommon genetic disorder affects her attempts at finding a boyfriend. I was going to end this paragraph with Go girl! but then I realised I never say Go Girl! and it’d just sound condescending, which it does. Instead I’ll just say good luck Kali (I know it’s not going to be airing live by the way, but for the purpose of adding tension and stuff, that’s how I am writing this blog).

Lastly, we have Sam, and, aside from the ads on TV where he draws his perfect girlfriend — Down’s Syndrome in this case hasn’t affected Sam’s ideal girl having big old breasts, that’s for sure! — you’ll probably recognise him but may not know where from. I shall spare you the annoyance of having to even Google it: he’s been in The Inbetweeners and also Eastenders. My cousin has Down’s Syndrome, so I’m especially interested to see how this part plays out. I’m no expert on Down’s but I do know that many of these people have a much lower mental age — something that doesn’t increase with age and maturity, as far as I’m aware (but I may well be wrong, feel free to let me know in the comments section below if you like). Will this fact — if it is one at all, — have affected his understanding of the documentary he is taking part in? This was the first thing that came into my mind when I saw the advert where he draws his perfect girlfriend. I am going to assume that this is just my massive ignorance speaking, and that Sam has been guided by his family to perfectly understand fully what it’s all about. I really need to go and read up on Down’s Syndrome and shall make that my first priority after work (well, I might make a cup of tea first).

If you’ve been loving The Undateables then you may like my debut novel — I know, will he ever shut up about his bloody debut novel?! — The Number 3 Mystery Book. Inspired by my experiences with disability and illness over the last six years, the lead character has Cherubism; a genetic disorder that affects the skull, making the lower jaw (mandible) and face grow disproportionately larger (those with Cherubism, as with many of these conditions, are not mentally impaired just because they look a bit unusual compared to the average person on the street). It’s a black comedy, and Barney’s side-kick is a girl in a wheelchair who takes absolutely NO SHIT. You can buy it if you like at Amazon US here or Amazon UK here and I feel confident enough to say that it will be a better investment than yet more fancy caffeine with a funny name. Want to see a review? (The book, not caffeine.) I can’t blame you, it could be total crap after all.

The Undateables will air tonight at 9pm on Channel 4.

Did you enjoy this post? Well, if you did that pleases me! My disability-related novel, The Number 3 Mystery Book is available in paperback here and from Amazon UK. If you live in the US, you can get it from Amazon US here. Thanks for reading and goodbye.

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