Channel 4 in the UK, the station that has already given us Sex-in-a-Box, ‘Benefits Street’ – exploiting the unemployed, and the live Ramadan call to prayer will now produce a programme where strangers are married to each other on-air and the cameras follow them for six weeks to see how it works out.
Channel 4 has purchased the rights from Danish Television’s ‘Marriage at First Sight’ to develop as the station’s website puts it “this ground-breaking social experiment (which)will see three couples matched by man and machine according to scientific and sociological criteria.”
Channel 4’s chief creative officer Jay Hunt claims the programme is a “celebration of marriage”, but family groups have criticised the show with the Marriage Foundation saying the producers do not understand commitment, while The Christian Institute said the show belittles marriage.
The couples will be matched according to Channel 4 by “a panel of experts in the fields of psychology, psychotherapy, social & evolutionary anthropology and theology”. They aim to show that love can occur after the marital relationship begins.
Cameras will follow the couples for the first six weeks of their relationship as they share their daily lives with a stranger who could potentially become their soul mate, but practicalities aside, Married at First Sight ultimately seeks to answer two questions according to the producers. Can science produce a successful relationship and can the act of marriage itself help create a psychological bond that leads to true and enduring love?
However Harry Benson, from the Marriage Foundation, said the principle of arranged marriage was proven to be successful, but warned it required the strong social support of families and plenty of time to adapt.
The Daily Telegraph reported Benson as saying that the programme’s opt-out clause risked “trivialising” the commitment required for marriage, while he was quoted as saying: “Instead of getting married with clarity and intent about their future, these couples will still be in a relationship that is riddled with ambiguity. Nobody gets married with an easy opt-out clause a few weeks later. It simply undermines commitment from the very beginning.”
But Channel 4’s creative director, Jay Hunt, added the new commissions were intended as “provocative new shows tackling big social issues”. His claim however that it was a “celebration of marriage” masks the reality that the station hopes it will be a celebration of ratings for a channel that is losing them.
Simon Calvert, speaking for The Christian Institute, said the idea “denigrates marriage” and added it is “horrible for broadcasters to be experimenting with people’s lives in this way. Clearly a marriage contracted between two people who barely know each other, who are doing it solely for the sake of a TV programme, is not showing proper respect for the institution”.
Calvert spoke to national radio station LBC (Leading Britain’s Conversation) at length. During this time on-air he was able to bring forth important points as to why the TV show and its concept are unwise.
Firstly the idea disregards what happens to children that arise. It’s a social experiment for ratings without regard to the consequences of the real lives of people and those that they might create. Marriage is categorized only as the relationship between the man and the woman.
Calvert correctly identifies on LBC that the programme follows a Game Show format that trivializes marriage. Two peoples lives will be profoundly affected yet Channel 4 takes advantage of people’s gullibility and desire for fame.
LBC introduced the idea that arranged marriages have worked with success for many centuries. Channel 4 would like us to believe that this is no different. But anyone familiar with arranged marriages, still common, for example, amongst peoples of India living in the west knows that there is much more to the process.
Arranged marriages usually involve the parents of both prospective bride and groom agreeing that marriage between their children is a good thing. Middle class Indian parents will advertise sometimes for a suitable match. Whether you agree or not pre-arrangement does provide stability to a young couple.
However, this is not what is happening here, and the media would like to switch the subject matter into something we might support, and then take that to claim an endorsement of what they are actually doing. It’s a classic lefty trick – basically bait and switch.
Channel 4 is not going to stop with its socially provocative programming and mainstream British politicians are not going to raise more than lip service against them despite Channel 4 being a government mandated station. British people must speak with their complaints, TV viewing and votes in order to bring change; yet too many are unaware of how they are being used.
David Jennings is an ex-pat Brit. living in California.
A Christian Minister he advocates for Traditional & Conservative causes.
David is also an avid fan of Liverpool Football Club and writes for the supporters club in America via the blog “Through the Storm”
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