The Future’s Dark. The Future’s Orange

This week, Stephen Irvine had a night in front of the telly …

Like a cold-hearted, moustachioed screw bundling a terrified lad out of the minivan, through the drizzle-soaked grounds of the borstal, up the concrete steps and into his new abode, the cold hand of time is about to shove me further into my 30’s any day now.  An impending birthday is as good a moment to reflect on the changing times as any…

Just this weekend a visiting friend insisted that we watch ITV’s Take Me Out, billed by said friend as ‘basically a new version of Blind Date’ and ‘a good laugh.’ Once the last of the tumbleweed had made its way across the room and safely into the hallway, out of curiosity, that’s exactly what we did.

Now, Cilla and her show were both very sickly sweet, and with 3 wacky contestants bidding for the ‘holiday of a lifetime’ with a mystery date, as undeniably shit as it was, nobody really came out of it that badly, and there was a fair bit of sympathy toward the vanquished lotharios and ladies who missed out on the 4 days in Crete.

Fast forward 25 years and it’s like Blind Date has been taken over by Damon Killian (do Google that one) as we endure the ritual humiliation of 30 women, from whom one man is asked to take his pick. The action gets underway as the first ape literally bounds into the studio having bizarrely been lowered into the battle arena in a dumb waiter, and straight away the ladies can choose to sit this one out if they don’t like the cut of his jib.

How it wasn’t all over at this point still beats me. After some guff from our hero, we’re then treated to a recording of one his great buddies giving us an embarrassing anecdote, before telling us what a great catch his mate will be.

Please. We can see he is clearly a c**t – that’s the whole point isn’t it?

Eventually our man runs up and down the line of girls still in the hunt after his sales pitch, gleefully eliminating any he doesn’t like the look of until we have a winner. Classy. Why not just get this moron to chuck a pint of Fosters at each of the losers so this nightmare feels even more like an evening in a Yates Wine Lodge?

Left behind are any ladies sporting glasses, those that have ‘weight issues’ or any kind of ‘alternative’ look, with the laughter of the studio in their ears as our romantic hero teases and mocks his way to a decision, just so his chosen one can see what a gentleman he’ll be when they get to the Med, I’m sure. The winning girls’ mothers must be so proud.

 All of which makes me wonder what the target audience must make of this. That would be families, and most certainly girls aged between about  11 and 16. Do normal kids at home aspire to be like the orange-faced victors they seen on their screens? Do they share the pain of the rejected, watching a terrible parallel of the school yard where anyone who wouldn’t look good on the cover of FHM is fair game to be ostracised? It can’t be easy watching the Neanderthal from Northampton making off for Fernandos with his bronze trophy, knowing you’re Tina, the awkward girl who was one of the first to be dumped out of the running…

TV is certainly a lot crueller than it used to be, that’s for sure, and I for one doff my cap to all the fat, plain, bespectacled and ugly girls growing up in today’s culture. At this time of reflection, I sure am glad I grew up in the 80’s, when Saturday night prime time wasn’t for the bullying and mocking of the undesirable, it was full of fuzzy sentiment provided by the lovable likes of Cilla Black, Michael Barrymore and Jim Davidson.  Oh …

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