Channel Four is gutter diving. It proposes a gameshow in which six couples will be selected by experts from a pool of contestants and then legally married, after a brief, or non existent, chance to get to know each other.
In Georgian times people paid to go into asylums to look at mentally ill people and to poke them with sticks. Now we have reality TV.
What counselling, support and psychiatric evaluation will ensure any of these people are fit to consent, I do not know. The problem is not that experts will pick couples who have to, say, have sex. That would be pimping, and irresponsible, and stupid, but it is much clearer what is involved in the long term. What this is doing, in the name of an “experiment”, is asking two people who barely know each other, to undergo a marriage, a legal and binding commitment to live together for life. How can any registrar believe that these individuals are doing this from an informed position? An experiment sets out to address a meaningful research question, addressing a hypothesis than can be disproved. How about “Is there anything Channel Four commissioners won’t commission if they are desperate?”
Dr Johnson said as many marriages would be happy if arranged by the Lord Chancellor. Arranged marriages utterly freak the individualistic West but they do involve consent, a community in support, and people picking partners who at least know the individuals. This programme is silly, it’s dangerous, and I question whether the marriages would be legal. Maybe it is the commissioners we need to poke with sticks.