Holly and Fearne Go Dating

Wednesday, September 5, 2007 by

Amidst declining ratings, ITV1 has been quick leap on other channel’s ideas and make their own version. This policy has so far brought us classics such as Fortune: Million Pound Giveaway, You Don’t Know You’re Born and the recent Britain’s Favourite View.

Thankfully the channel seems to be moving away from this format with a string of new shows for the problematic 10pm slot. So far only Benidorm has proved a breakout hit with recent flops including Tough Gig and 24 Hours With …

Now the network’s returned to recycling its own formats in its latest attempt, in which Fearne Cotton and Holly Willoughby travel the country matching up luckless lovers with their perfect partners. The dating format has been done many times before with great success – Blind Date was a staple of ITV1′s Saturday night schedule for many years. Unfortunately this show lacks any of that series’ charm, and doesn’t even attempt to pioneer any new techniques, which have made similar MTV productions, such as Room Raiders, so much fresher.

Instead, Holly and Fearne Go Dating feels like a mish-mash of half-baked ideas, as illustrated by the bizarre title sequence in which giant versions of our two matchmakers stride through a futuristic city doing their makeup while a reworked Sewing the Seeds of Love plays in the background. We’re introduced to the duo as they’re chatting in a sportscar while driving to their first singleton, Charlotte, a gardening expert with a penchant for ’50′s clothing and art. After a brief chat they discover the girl and her mother share a “special bond” and are never apart. She lives in a remote village and rarely goes out with people her own age.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the problem is here.

For supposed best friends, Holly and Fearne aren’t very convincing in their roles. They constantly talk over each other and seem more like they were thrown together by the production company given they clearly have nothing in common. This is demonstrated perfectly in their choice of venues to look for prospective men. Holly decides to travel to an urban poetry club, while Fearne heads to an environmental festival – she’s decided Charlotte needs a “green person”.

Holly’s choice of location is described as “one of the coolest nights out in Bristol”, a recipe for success if I’ve ever heard it. The pair wander round taking Polaroids of random men and interviewing a select few who catch their eye. They narrow it down to a creative writer who also has a passion for ’50′s clothing and Simon, a dull man whose claim to fame is that he used to be a butler to the Queen. Of course Holly incorrectly chooses the latter to have a dinner date with Charlotte

The day after, Fearne heads to the festival where she uncovers one of the most idiotic people to ever grace this Earth. Ben is your archetypal “wacky” guy, he wears “crazy” clothes and thinks all his own jokes are hilarious. “Of course I’m single” he claims, “I’m always single”. Surely the alarm bells should have rang, but no, Fearne thinks he would be perfect for timid Charlotte, and picks him for dinner at Hell’s Kitchen.

There is such a lack of concern for anything in the show, and the only emotion is when we learn who’s won this episode. It turned out to be Holly, even though Charlotte said “there was no spark” between her and Simon. She obviously chose for him just to get away from the unbearable Ben.

And that’s where we left it. There was no follow-up about what she learned, or if she’ll make changes to her life. Just Charlotte stood outside the restaurant, alone, saying that Simon probably “never wanted to see me ever again”.

The whole programme just proves that behind all the press releases claming ITV1 are going to change their ways they are still afraid to try anything new. Worst still, they can’t even get the basics right anymore.


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