World Series of Dating
James Chetwnd-Talbot (Tom Price)
Doyle MacManus (Rob Riggle)
Referee Bentley (Bentley Kalu)
Poppy Weathers (Thaila Zucchi)
Lion Television Scotland for BBC Three, 26 March to 8 May 2012 (8 episodes in 1 series)
What happens when a speed dating session is turned into a competition? Over the course of an evening meal, six men take it in turns to spend time with four women. As in 2012's other dating hit Take Me Out, the ladies have the power: if their companion is being boring, or boorish, or downright offensive, or they've just had enough, they can hit the Big Red Button, the date is over, and another man will take his place. Whichever man spends the longest time sat with women wins the night's prize.
Each show is built from highlights of an evening's dating, cutting between all the conversations and condensing about eight hours of filming to a 30-minute programme. It distinguishes itself from traditional dating shows by not taking itself seriously. At all. The hosts are characters - a repressed Old Etonian and a brash American. They observe as though this were an actual sports show, with commentary and slow-motion replays, and not a test to see who can bore the ladies least. Thaila Zucchi appears as the pitchside reporter, interviewing the players after they've been sent off. For our money the best performance is by Bentley Kalu, the no-nonsense ref with a gruff bass voice and the sharpest line in ejections since Anne Robinson.
The basic concept is familiar - sports commentators in unexpected places was the unique selling point of Pete Versus Life (Channel 4, 2010-1). And it's a series best enjoyed after the watershed - there's a little strong language, and a lot of very unsubtle innuendo. The competition probably isn't strong enough to stand on its own, so we're really watching a comedy programme that happens to be a game show.
The show publicised the hashtag #wsod.