It’s only been seven or so years since ITV gave Blind Date the chop, but they’ve revived the Saturday night dating show format with Take Me Out.
But dating has come a long way since Cilla Black was unsubtly hinting about having to buy new hats to attend her contestants’ weddings. Fronted by sometimes-funny Paddy McGuinness, Take Me Out has a far more mass market approach to pairing its love-starved contestants up.
30 (yes, thirty) women are assembled for each show, lined up on stage behind podiums that light up. They use these lights to indicate whether they’re interested in the ‘eligible bachelor’ who’s brought before them. Example: a ginger guy wearing a striped sweater and tartan trousers (who could’ve been on the original Blind Date) is brought out, and instantly almost every one of the thirty lights is extinguished.
The guy is asked some questions and with each answer, the remaining girls choose to stay in the game or to withdraw. If they withdraw, they switch off their light. At the end, the bachelor chooses between the two remaining contestants and they couple go on a date.
It’s everything that’s horrible but brilliant about ITV at the same time! You’ve got 30 good(ish)-looking, glammed up women, dressed up for a Saturday night out. The eye-candy element cannot be underestimated! As a fellow viewer on Twitter said, the show has a mysterious hold that keeps you watching, even when it’s awful. And by awful, how about a guy playing saxophone with a sparkler attached while Paddy McGuinness quips – “Your SAX is on fiiiire!” Oh, how original Paddy.
There’s an unusually cruel, car-crash element to the show as well – there was a chubby blonde who’d always get so far in the game, then get turned away by the bloke in favour of someone slightly more refined looking. And when she was down to the final two in one instance, Paddy reveals “One of these girls hasn’t been in a relationship in three years.” Yeah, guess which one. Needless to say, she went home dateless!
While I don’t think it’s going to win any entertainment awards, Take Me Out’s still good for a laugh and an ogle at some pretty girls. They’re clearly not aiming to spark off lifelong love affairs between their contestants, but the format works, in a promiscuous, vacuous kind of way. Cilla Black it ain’t, but Paddy McGuinness must be pinching himself, wondering how the hell he landed on primetime ITV1. I certainly am.