Naked Attraction: Does dating show herald doom for society?
Channel 4's 'icky' contest shocks and repulses many, but should we be celebrating this rare display of real bodies?
Channel 4's new dating show Naked Attraction has prompted horror and sympathy from viewers - but is there also something to celebrate?
The show, hosted by Anna Richardson, puts six mate-seeking singles on display for one individual, who chooses who stays and who goes based on what they like and dislike about their completely naked bodies. The six contenders are whittled down to two, at which point the chooser also has to strip before making their final decision. The couple then goes on a date – fully clothed - to see if the attraction is more than skin deep.
The show has been called "the most controversial dating show on television", although the Daily Mirror points out that two contestants from the first episode are still dating.
After being widely compared to an "X-rated version of ITV dating show, Take Me Out", maybe it really does work, adds the newspaper. At least some of the contestants looking for love "actually found it".
But reactions from commentators and the public have been more sceptical and some are downright horrified.
One viewer tweeted: "That Naked Attraction show is beyond creepy", while another wrote: "Our society has reached a new low, and I have a pretty high tolerance for trash. #Eugh." Others questioned how the programme had even made it on air.
Some have been sympathetic, or at least impressed by the bravery of those who took part in the show, but many critics were appalled.
Ed Power at the Daily Telegraph says: "Channel 4's confusing remake of Free Willy marched on to a third episode, oblivious, it seemed, to the howls, hoots and widespread consensus that this naked dating show represented a final harbinger of the apocalypse".
"It was all quite icky and clinical", he adds. But while it is "sensationalist and lowest dominator with a vengeance", the ratings for "one of Channel 4's most exploitative forays to date", speak for themselves, he admits - 1.4 million people tuned in to the opening episode and viewership for the second eclipsed Celebrity Big Brother.
Nudity is here to stay, concludes Power. "By Christmas, Channel 4 News presenters will doubtless be reading the headlines in bra and/or y-fronts."
It's an awful concept for a show, agrees Ellie Walker-Arnott in the Radio Times, but it does have "one saving grace": it's "showing real bodies on TV".
This "dating show" is equal parts repulsive and captivating, she continues, adding that it is hard to turn it off in a rage because what we are seeing is so rare - wobbly tummies, jiggly bums, body hair, tattoos and let's not even start listing the different types of genitalia.
But Naked Attraction is about what real people find attractive about real bodies, Walker-Arnott says. And "the lack of perfection is remarkably refreshing".