With a relationship expert, a confidence coach and a stylist on hand, the show wasn’t just a dating format but a complete mind and body overhaul for its participants, and one that yielded some genuine successes. (Celebrity) Love Island Famous as the celebrity reality show that featured people so far down the Z-list they had to change the title for fear of the Trade Descriptions people, this curious little number was essentially Big Brother on a Fijian island, in which viewers voted which pair to send into a “love shack” in order to get to know one another better, and whittled the holidaying "celebs" down to a final pair who received a £50,000 cash prize. Game shows pegged around romance have been with us since The Dating Game in the 1970s, which patented the formula of a lone singleton asking innuendo-laced questions of three potential mates on primetime TV.A cynical free holiday for the participants, the show is best remembered as the nadir of TV's reality and dating formats. Mind you, since those heady days there have been all manner of innovative formats devoted to matters of the heart showcased on the box, the latest of which is Channel 4’s Come Date with Me, which began this week.Featuring probing questions about where hubby kept his slippers and what sort of fireplace the wife would like to install in the house, the show was a celebration of a side of romance all too infrequently highlighted on TV. Dating in the Dark In an attempt to find out if inner beauty is really as important as everyone likes to pretend, Living TV devised a format in which singletons meet one another for a date in a pitch-black studio to see if they click without the distraction of appearances getting in the way. It doesn’t get much simpler than that, does it, folks? Blind Date Where would this list have been without Cilla and Our Graham, whose wholesale rip-off of The Dating Game is still the yardstick by which all other romance-fests are judged? The Bachelor It’s always nice to feel wanted, and no show affords its protagonist this glowing sense of satisfaction like Channel 5’s premier dating format, which might as well be called Whittle Down the Harem. Mr and Mrs What happens after the heady rush of romance settles down into the comfortable routine of married life? Rugby’s own Gavin Henson walked through the show in a daze, and who can blame him, having 25 women throwing themselves at him on primetime TV for weeks on end?Well, if you were a ring-sporting British couple from the mid 60s to 2010, you could always go on Mr and Mrs, a white-knuckle quiz show in which pairs of committed lovebirds were tested on their knowledge of each others’ everyday habits. Essentially, all Gavin had to do was meet all of these women and decide which one he liked best.Notable mainly for its crowbarred-in sub-Carry On innuendo and crushing sense of disappointment, Blind Date was nevertheless an institution that lasted for nearly 18 years.Needless to say, few of the romances concocted on the show survived for anywhere near that amount of time… Beauty and the Geek A mutual cramming session for ladies who know more about mascara than microbiology and gents whose intellectual achievements far outweigh their romantic ones, this US import lasted only one season in Blighty, but what a series it was.
The show sees a single lady whittle down five suitors from Monday to Friday, eliminating one chap per night until she finds her beau.It’s a novel way to go about finding a partner, but it’s far from the only off-the-wall romance show to see the light of a cathode ray.