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Three's a Crowd

The BBC have tried out many new formats in their BBC2 6:00 weekday slot that's been vacated by The Simpsons defecting to Channel 4. They've ranged from rubbish (Nobody likes a Smartass), through to the OK (Traitor) through to the really quite good (the remake of Treasure Hunt). However none of these seem to have made the grade. So what has then? Well, it's a cheap dating show. But, you understand, not just any cheap dating show but a quirky cheap dating show that's based on a Japanese show called Alternative Love. It's also a show that in my opinion rises to the top of the much maligned televised reality dating hybrid gameshow sub-genre.

There's a fairly simple conceit behind the show. It's a dating show with three people in it. On each episode there is either a girl and two guys or a guy and two girls. Each day there are two activity dates lined up for them. On each occasion, the single gendered one (the "picker") has to pick a card at random to determine who they go on the date with, whilst the third person has to sit off to the side and just watch. This means that although probability suggests they'll both go out on a date, somebody might luck out and win both (meaning conversely somebody won't get to go on any).

After the dates our contestants go back to the flat. The picker now has to make a choice as to which person she wants to keep and who she wants to dump by leaving a photo of her desired pick on the kitchen table. The dumped has to leave immediately. The pair left in have to retire to seperate bedrooms. Each night at 11:50, our players have to make a decision. Do they want to leave as a couple (in which case they must both leave their rooms before midnight) or do they want more time to think it over (in which case one or both of them stay in their rooms). The danger of not leaving, however, is that the next day a new person of random gender comes to join them and the game begins again. But will the picker get to pick again or will the balance of power have shifted? It's all so intriguing.

Reasons why I quite enjoy this then, despite the fact I don't normally give a toss about dating shows:

  • Good use of music. Each of the contestants has their own sort of theme tune, a three second burst of a popular music hit. However the real classy bit is the show's completely unneccessarily over the top bassy synth tension music for the tense decision bits and some amusingly upbeat countdown music for those final ten seconds before midnight.
  • Claudia Winkleman giving an amusingly girly commentary which isn't nearly as annoying as you'd predict Claudia Winkleman doing a girly commentary is actually likely to be.
  • I like the wacky Japanese sense of humour in not being a particularly fair game in the slightest. But sometimes it working out for the best.
  • Finally, and probably most interestingly, this is one of the few dating shows where you can see obvious attraction form before your very eyes and you end up willing certain people to come out at midnight because they'd quite clearly make a lovely couple.

Christ, I'm such a girl.

This is actually a show that began out on BBC3 and has been the only show to successfully keep the BBC2 timeslot for over a week, so well done it.

In summary then, a cheap dating show that is surprisingly engrossing.