Something for the Weekend, Sir? What’s your name, chuck, and where do you come from?
“My name’s William, Cilla, but my friends call me WILLY eheh heh heh and I’m from HORNY Hornsea!”
(Studio audience cheers noisily for no obvious reason)
And you, number two?
“My name’s ROD uhuh huh huh, and I’m from uhuh huh huh SHAFTesbury.”
(Studio audience inexplicably cheers even more wildly)
And you, number six?
“You want information? You won’t get it.”
By hook or by crook, chuck, we will.
“I am not a number! I’m a free man!”
Readers under a certain age – those who are as yet unaware of their own birth – may be under the false assumption that reality TV in Britain began in the Noughties. In fact, the great British public has always lusted after every opportunity to humiliate itself via broadcast media. This rampant desire was eventually sheathed back in the 1980s as a hugely successful TV game show and thrust into our living rooms as Blind Date.
The format of Blind Date, as if you didn’t know, involved a contestant posing leading questions to three other contestants of the opposite gender who were hidden behind a screen but visible to the audience. The contestant asking the questions would then have to choose one of the three with whom to go out on an all-day, all-expenses-paid romantic rendezvous, followed everywhere by a photographer.
The highlight of the show was watching the undisguised disappointment of both the man and woman when the screen swept back and they caught sight of each other for the first time. Their faces tended not to show surprise so much as emotions ranging from shock, misery and dread to disbelief, revulsion and terror.
At the time, a friend at university contacted the producers and invited them to hold auditions in the student union building, which they duly did. We learned a lot about reality TV that day.
When posed a question such as “I enjoy dancing, so would you like to go dancing with me?” a normal man might reply “Er, OK, I’m willing to learn” or “Yes! I am a gold-medal winner in disco/waltz/tango/lambada/etc” or “Can’t we stay at home and watch Gladiators instead?”
These are wrong answers.
What you were supposed to say is something more like “I’m strictly ballroom, babe. Would you like to be strict with my ball room?” or “Let’s get jiggy with it, darlin’, and jump straight for some horizontal dancing!”
Inevitably, my friend was the only student in the auditions who understood how to perform like a twat, so he was the only one to be chosen to take part in the TV programme. He didn’t win but, uhuh huh huh, he certainly came close!
Blind dating has never appealed to me. I tried it once while a sixth-former, persuaded by a schoolmate. The girl was pleasant enough but all desire drained away when I delivered her home that evening, chaste and sound, and met her mother at the door.
You know the way they say all young men will one day end up looking like their dads and young women their mums? Well, my date’s mother looked like Bugs Bunny in a dress.
I could put up with the buck teeth, I thought, but those three-foot long ears were too much. Besides, just as I turned to leave, she pulled on a rope and I was crushed by a one-ton anvil.
Since then, the closest I have ever got to a blind date was hitting Reply to an RT.