Before I begin this entry, I want to make one thing absolutely clear – ITV’s dating show, ‘Take Me Out’, is an abomination of British televisual programming. It is tacky, cheesy, cringe-worthy, and Paddy McGuinness is to prime time TV, what Nicolas Cage is to Shakespearean acting.
But, so help me, I love it.
For a few years now, I have grown increasingly fond of mindless crappy TV shows, purely because I find that I can switch off and relax in front of them – and nothing is more mindless and crappy than ‘Take Me Out’. It’s so bad, that it’s great.
If you have managed to avoid it thus far, since it first hit our screens a few years ago, let me explain the concept.
Thirty single ‘ladies’ (the term has never been used more loosely), stand behind a line of podiums which each have a light on, and they are then introduced to a single man who descends – via a ‘love lift’ – to be paraded in front of them.
The man is asked to introduce himself and say where he is from, before the thirty ladies get the chance to turn their light off, if they don’t want to go on a date with him. If they like what they see, they leave their light on; if they don’t, it gets turned off.
‘No Likey, No Lighty’
(that’s Paddy McGuinness’ actual catchphrase by the way, I haven’t just made that up – give me some credit).
Now, assuming the poor chap doesn’t lose all thirty lights based purely on his appearance, accent and hometown – I don’t think anyone from Burnley has been on yet – he then has two further rounds to try and impress the womenfolk (which, by all accounts, isn’t too difficult, since having a job, no criminal record, and all your own teeth appears to be enough for most of them – although these ‘standards’ would at least eliminate any men from Burnley who managed to sneak through Round 1).
Round 2 is always a pre-recorded video clip, in which the man tells the ladies a bit more about himself, and then Paddy will talk to any who have turned off their lights. More often than not, there is at least one girl who clearly wanted to turn her light off as soon as the guy got out of the lift, but didn’t do so (whether through embarrassment, pity, or because she got side-tracked by the pretty studio lights and forgot), and who now needs a hastily-crafted reason for having turned off her light during the video clip. Some of the reasons are honestly genius:
“Well, Paddy, he said in the video that he loves spending time with his Mum, and I don’t want to be sharing my man with another woman…”
“Aw, he looks lovely like, and he’s everything I want in a man like, but I noticed that he was wearing shoes in the video, and that put me off because I used to work in a shoe shop…”
“Sorry, Paddy, but I turned off because he likes going to the gym, and my last boyfriend was called Jim…”
Round 3 then requires the poor bastard to either perform a lame ‘talent’ – often in an embarrassingly stupid costume – or alternatively suffer through one of his friends/family telling everyone what he’s really like, usually to his detriment (“So ladies, if you don’t mind his hobby of taxidermy whilst dressed as a Nazi, Gavin is the guy for you…”). I swear I’m not making this up.
To top it off, each new round is introduced by Paddy McGuinness using some kind of terrible rhyme, much to the amusement of the girls, audience and, most of all, himself (but no one watching at home), to remind them that, if they want to go on a date with the chap, they should leave their light on.
If you like what you see, don’t go for a wee.
Ok, that was one of mine, but the actual ones aren’t any better.
If you think he’s quite fit, don’t go for a sh…
You get the idea.
Anyway, should he survive the three rounds without a ‘blackout’ (when all thirty lights go off, and he has to leave in a cloud of shame, for being so repulsive that not a single one of the desperate harpies will go out with him), he can then narrow down the remaining women to a final two, ask them a question (“if you were a type of cheese, which would you be and why?”), and finally choose his date. The happy couple then get whisked off to fictional island ‘Fernandos’ – which appears to be Tenerife – for a weekend of romance, usually involving some kind of water sport (behave) and dinner.
We then get to find out how all the couples got on during the following week’s show, and more often than not they hate each other before they’ve even got off the plane. It also becomes abundantly clear which girls only left their light on to get a bit more screen time and a free holiday.
“There’s just no physical attraction there, because I really don’t like bald men.”
He’s fucking bald, love. He was hardly going to miraculously grow hair for you in the space of a week, was he? He’s not Wayne Rooney.
It’s also fascinating to discover what some men consider to be ‘romancing’ a lady. In last weekend’s final episode of the series, one chap actually thought it would impress his date to ask her:
“Has anyone ever told you, that you have really hairy arms?”
You do realise that you said that out loud, don’t you? Have you not spoken to any actual women before? Here’s a thought – why don’t you also call her fat, and then grab her boobs whilst making a comedy ‘honking’ sound too? Women bloody love that.
Ok, it’s a terrible concept for a show, it’s executed really poorly, and the people who go on it are mouth-breathing morons who deserve to be single for the rest of their lives. So why on earth do I like it so much?
Well, aside from my fondness for shit television, the main reason is this: I love to play along at home.
Let me explain. Once the man has been guaranteed a date, I carefully scrutinise the women who have left their lights on (after months of careful analysis, I have arrived at the conclusion that somewhere between five and ten women remaining is the optimum number – any fewer and its slim pickings, any greater and there is too much choice), and select which two I would narrow it down to, before picking my overall winner.
It’s all harmless fun, and my wife is well aware that I play along without actually being attracted to any of the women (it’s not hard really – pun intended), but part of me would be intrigued to actually go on the show, if only to see whether I could get to the final round without all thirty women turning their lights off.
‘If you think he’s not right, keep your legs tight’
Of course, I would never actually apply to go on the show, for a number of reasons:
- I’m not ‘outgoing’ (read: weird) enough;
- I’d hopefully never be that desperate, even if I was single;
- I don’t have any discernible talents to show off in Round 2 (although, I suspect my ability to make a 12-pack of Jaffa Cakes disappear in under a minute, would seduce at least one of them);
- I’m rubbish at making decisions at the best of times, but having to choose between the only dribbling cretins who left their lights on for me, would cause me to have some kind of breakdown on national TV;
- Oh, yeah, I’m married.
This last reason is, of course, the biggy. I’m pretty certain being married is an automatic barrier to applying for the show anyway, but even if I did manage to slip through the net, imagine the round where one of the man’s friends or relatives gets to reveal what he’s really like: “Ok, ladies, let’s see if you’re still interested once we hear from his wife. Remember, turn off your light, if you think he’s a shite…” Cue immediate blackout.
The other reason I won’t go on the show, is that it has now become a parody of itself, and the women seem to get more and more desperate, stupid and un-dateable with each new series.
That’s no exaggeration either. In the series which finished last Saturday, there was a girl who could make a clapping sound with her bum, purely by shaking it from side-to-side. I shit you not. Even if she can do that, what possessed her to share this ‘ability’ with the country (three times), on a show where the whole point is to try and make yourself attractive to the opposite sex?
Paddy: “So, Steve, what do you look for in a woman?”
Steve: “Well, Paddy, ideally I’d like to find someone who can give me a round of applause using only her arse.”
Paddy: “Ooh, have I got just the girl for you, Steve….”
‘Take Me Out’ is a truly terrible programme, but I still love it, because it requires no brain power, energy or willing on my part to enjoy it. It’s a bit like a car crash: you can’t help but look, even if it is through your fingers.
Plus, even though I won’t go on the show myself, I’ve seen some of the idiots who have successfully bagged themselves a date, and feel sure I couldn’t come across any worse, so it’s a bit of a confidence boost that I’m seemingly not at the very bottom of the male gene pool.
Of course, I have already successfully landed myself a real-life woman anyway, so all this is irrelevant, and that’s the way I like it. Imagine if I was single, and desperate enough to actually consider applying to go on the show…. [shudders]
Lights out, all out.