If you're feeling excruciatingly awkward about hunting down your future life partner, dig out some of these old TV dating show classics to see how much worse it can be. While you've chosen to sift through profiles on a free dating site in the privacy of your home, hundreds of fame-hungry singles before you have sought love on TV. So if you're ever in the mood to point, poke fun, and generally guffaw at what other mortals are prepared to do in the name of love / celebrity, track down a few episodes from these classic dating shows...
Blind Date - ITV 1985-2003
Widely considered to be the original British dating show, Blind Date was hosted by Cilla Black with the support of the creepily faceless, yet omnipresent ‘Our Graham'. Contestants were required to select one of three complete strangers. Their choice was based solely on the answers to the raciest questions that teatime scheduling would allow (so, not very racy at all). They first clapped eyes on their new love after the selection had been made and the large screen was rolled back for the big reveal. The couple were then whisked off for a break together and forced to report back a week later.
The format was based on the sound moral principle that matches should be made on personality rather than looks, but alas ignored the essential ingredient in any union - mutual physical attraction.
Take Me Out - ITV 2010-present
Long after Cilla had hung up her gold sparkly jacket (surely the Head of Wardrobe was fired for that monstrosity), the public continued to yearn for a romance-based replacement. What they got was a hormonally charged witches coven, in the form of Take Me Out. Where Blind Date had promoted the virtues of personality over looks, Take Me Out is a purely appearance based contest.
An overly cocky young male is thrown into a pit of sex-starved women, more up for it than a flock of hens on a night out in Blackpool. Some talking, giggles and banter ensues, but no one is really paying attention to that. In the end the self-proclaimed Adonis weighs up each candidate based on looks and probability of a shag, and picks whoever he thinks is most likely to deliver on both fronts. Romance in the 21st century...
Parental Control - MTV 2005-2010
Save yourself from the dating dilemma of falling for someone your parents don't approve of, by having your parents choose your next partner. This was the creepy format for MTV's Parental Control, in which people who were old enough to vote, drive, and have sex, were not considered responsible enough to choose their own dates. A panel of candidates paraded in front of mom and pop (yep, it was American), who picked their two favourites. The poor singleton was then sent on a date with each, which was filmed and screened for their parents.
The catch? The young lady in question already had a boyfriend, so not only was she having to choose between two men, she was also coming to terms with the fact that her own parents loathed her current squeeze so much, they were prepared to declare it on national television.
Streetmate - Channel 4 1998-2001 and ITV2 2007
Literally the most cringeworthy dating show... no, in fact the most cringeworthy show of all time, and yet in a desperate bid to fill their number two channel (ho ho) with any old guff, ITV saw fit to resurrect it.
Davina McCall (in the Channel 4 version), paced the streets on the look out for a singleton. Once she'd found / captured one, they were then obliged to spend the day on camera, running around their hometown on the look out for a match. Once the ideal date had been found, the couple were sent out for a romantic night on the lash, while Channel 4 producers desperately hoped to capture some semi-pornographic scenes in the back of a night club.
If none of those love-hunting options appeal, you should probably stick to free online dating sites.