2 become 1

Monday, September 10, 2007 by

Due to a, er, clerical error, I’ve ended up watching two of the three episodes so far of Holly and Fearne Go Dating on ITV1. And surely it’s only a clerical error that has put this on the main channel in the first place, as with its flimsy concept and production budget of, seemingly, 50p, this show has got ITV2 written all over it.

In fact I’d heard that ITV2 were about to revive Streetmate, but I don’t know if this actually is it. There’s no mention of it in the credits, but this new series certainly shares some similarities with the old Davina-when-she-was-tolerable-fronted Channel 4 series.

It’s a simple format – each episode features someone looking for love, and Holly and Fearne gallivant across the country trying to find the perfect match. They each choose one person to meet the singleton at – cross-promotion ahoy! - Hell’s Kitchen, and the subject decides which one to have a fully-fledged dinner date with, and which out of Holly and Fearne has “won” that particular encounter.

It’s all harmless fun, of course, with nothing at all distinctive or unique about it – apart from the uniquely awful theme tune, a cover of Sowing the Seeds of Love by, of all people, one Richard Parfitt Jr. Nothing much happens at all, and bizarrely the actual date – surely the whole point of the programme – is virtually chucked away. The singleton decides which of the pair they like the best, we see about 10 seconds of their chit-chat and then we cut to the subject saying, “Yeah, I might see them again” or, “No, they’re not really my type”. And that’s it.

The general point to take from this, though, is that there’s room for three episodes of this on ITV1 this week, yet there’s no room for any new drama whatsoever. Aside from CorrieEmmerdale and The Bill, there’s no new drama at all, which I find remarkable. 10 or 15 years ago, when the channel was dumping all over the Beeb, it would hardly go one night without a drama at 9pm. Now it’s going a week without any.

Instead we have Hell’s Kitchen seven nights a week. Now this may be one of the top reality shows (though I question why we’re getting a new series two and a half years after the last, and three and a half years since the last good one), but it’s a reality show, and that’s a genre which can be seen on hundreds of other channels from five to Sky One to Living to MTV. Whereas, ITV1 is one of the few channels that can afford and has a reputation in quality drama, and you’d think it would want to emphasise one of the genres it genuinely excels in.

Not surprisingly, every time Hell’s Kitchen has been screened opposite a drama on BBC1, it’s come off second best. Whereas the last time it showed a post-watershed drama, it was a huge success. The facts speak for themselves – if ITV1 are so desperate to pull in the ratings, it should screen drama at 9pm nine times out of 10. Why is this channel continually failing to play to its strengths?


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