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The Undateables - Series 4
It's back. The return of the show that is responsible for more divided opinion amongst the general public than any of the current reality shows. Forget Celebrity Big Brother (most people already have) and the one where people you've never heard of jump off a diving board, The Undateables has returned.
This has come as excellent news for those who have followed with interest the romantic trails and mishaps of reality TV's most interesting and diverse participants. For the last two series we often laughed with them, sometimes shed a tear for them, but mostly rooted for them to find the love that every person deserves.
The series seems to affect the nation in a way that no other TV show ever has, it makes us think, and in many ways, it makes us look at ourselves and the way we perceive those with disabilities. So often we catch ourselves feeling guilty for our intrusion into the lives of these remarkable people, but then we realise that's exactly what they are. People.
" Betty TV - makers of the Undateables pride themselves on their stance of letting the participants make mistakes, and choose not to edit those moments where you're not sure whether to laugh or make a donation to MENCAP."
Putting aside for a moment the liberal, middle-class tendency to shy away from commenting on matters of controversy, the Undateables has a unique ability to spark debate in offices and workplaces across the country.
It was, and still is, the first of it's kind, and it's success can be attributed to the one factor that makes this show special, it is a reality show which actually shows reality. Channel 4 have long prided themselves on refusing to sugar the pill when it comes to controversy, and this combination of an experimental network and a brave production company has married seamlessly to create the ultimate dating show.
This is exactly the kind of show that people want to watch and talk about, and other dating shows pale into insignificance under the shadow of the Undateables. Nobody really cares if the suntanned, blonde model picks a man who is really a millionaire, and there has never been a debate in an office about whether the strangely energetic young man should have picked contestant number two or three.
The fact that there had been complaints to Channel 4 before the first series of the show had even aired spoke volumes about the squeamishness of the British public when it comes to acknowledging disability, but the initial apprehension soon made way to a sense of involvement and empathy for those brave enough to put their romantic conquests under the spotlight.
The makers of the Undateables pride themselves on their stance of letting the participants make mistakes, and choose not to edit those moments where you're not sure whether to laugh or make a donation to MENCAP. They simply treat the participants as human beings
"Those who once shied away from the dating scene, and who ironically considered themselves to be "undateable" have been shown the way in the perilous world of dating."
We all have human emotions, and we all make human errors, so why not share them with the world? These are real lives, and real people, and that is what makes the Undateables so endearing to it's huge following.
Making fools of ourselves in front of prospective sweethearts, or pining like a teenager for that special soul-mate are not things that are exclusive to people with disabilities. We've all done this. But it is the ability to laugh at these things when the person in question is disabled that many found tricky to begin with.
However, as any of the participants will tell you, they are just the people in the street. They live, they love, and they laugh just like everyone else, and who has the right to decide that their lives should be hidden away behind a wall of horridly well-meaning liberal censorship?
It would seem that the show itself has the potential to do something that very few others ever will, it has the power to change the nation's conscience. The guilt some viewers felt during the first few episodes soon fell away to reveal a genuine affection for these uniquely likeable people.
"The success, and unique entertainment provided by The Undateables will surely mean that this TV gem will carry on for as long as the nation has a heart, a brain, and a desire to see real people succeed in life."
And as the ratings go from strength to strength, so does the empowerment of any disabled person in the realm of romance. Those who once shied away from the dating scene, and who ironically considered themselves to be undateable have been show the way in the perilous world of dating.
The third series brings with it a new gang of amorous adventurers. Tall, talented and downright funny, Daniel is a singer song-writer with autism, who managed to put a smile on the face of the nation with his energy and passion for life.
Mary, a four time gold medal winner in the Dwarf Olympics, brought to the show a real sense of empowerment and strength. Her tiny stature is eclipsed by her desire to get her man, and in front of millions of well-wishers, she did, in the form of a muscle-bound personal trainer who obviously saw the sparkle of desire and determination in Mary.
The most emotional moments came in Hayley's story. Born with a condition that fuses her bones and makes movement difficult, her charm, kindness and unique sense of humour provided the ideal antidote to the sadness many felt for her due to the severity of her condition.
But it takes more than a disability to stop someone as special as Hayley, and her reward came in the form of a trip to the bowling alley with a man who once met Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards. Although the date and the location were far from fairytale, Hayley's second date in nine years certainly meant the world to her, just as it did to millions of viewers.
The success, and unique entertainment provided by The Undateables will surely mean that this TV gem will carry on for as long as the nation has a heart, a brain, and a desire to see real people succeed in life.
All they need is love, and all we need is to love them. It's a marriage made in heaven.