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"How the hell did this get on tv?" Naked dating shows as the final taboo on mainstream tv.

Smith, Angela (2019) "How the hell did this get on tv?" Naked dating shows as the final taboo on mainstream tv. European Journal of Cultural Studies. ISSN 1367-5494

Item Type: Article


There is a long history of dating shows on TV, most famously in the UK in the form of the long-running ITV show Blind Date which ran from 1985 until 2003, and its re-boot is currently being filmed for ITV1. The game-show format continues in shows such as Take Me Out (also ITV1) and Dinner Date (More 4). Elsewhere, the make-over shows that dominated the schedule in the late 1990s and first decade of the century morphed into relationship and dating shows, such as Gok’s Fashion Fix (C4) and Snog, Marry, Avoid (BBC3). However, another relationship/make-over show, How to Look Good Naked (C4 2006-2012) seems to have heralded a further development of this. Whilst How to Look Good Naked never showed full frontal nudity, with participants always expressing the empowering nature of their ‘naked picture’ finale, in the last year there has been a further development of the nakedness theme across several dating shows that have a game-show format. The one that has caused most comment is Channel 4’s Naked Attraction, with Stuart Heritage in the Guardian commenting that ‘the bottom of the barrel has been reached’. This is a show that opens with the assertion that ‘Online dating has been a complete nightmare […] with the status symbols we wear getting in the way of finding our perfect mate.’ With full nudity, lingering close-ups and graphic descriptions, this show drove many viewers to Twitter to express dismay that this show has made it to mainstream tv, and led to the Guardian referring to this show as being symptomatic of dystopian tv in 2016. This paper will explore how the shock of graphic nudity is ameliorated by the linguistic strategies of positive politeness that all participants seem to collude to engage with. Such amelioration would appear to be a defence against accusations of voyeuristic and pornographic content on mainstream tv.

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Depositing User: Angela Smith


Item ID: 10350
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ISSN: 1367-5494
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ORCID for Angela Smith: ORCID iD

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Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2019 09:46
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2020 10:53