Friday, February 14, 2003
The benchmark is set
When you look out your window and see storm clouds gathering, it's probably best to stay inside.
ITV obviously does not agree with this sentiment. When John Leslie, the original host of Surprise Wedding, had to be replaced after suffering minor personal problems, they chose to push on, ignoring the possibility that it was a sign from above that they were doing a bad, bad thing.
Replacement host Mark Durden-Smith must have told the six desperate brides how brave they were about 500 times over the course of the show. And brave they were - if you were a commitment-phobic man whose girlfriend was determined to march you down the aisle, could there be a worse surprise waiting to greet you than the demented bitch, in a wedding dress, standing on a nasty set with a grinning fool and a fat Scottish padre? No, we didn't think so.
And yet! Call us romantic (or just stupid), but there was something strangely compelling about the whole affair - and we're not just talking about the peculiar attraction of Jodie's headgear.
It started well when, four minutes in, one of the brides threatened to kill herself if rejected. Chunky co-host Amanda Lamb claimed that everyone was on tenderhooks (which we're assuming are like tenterhooks, only softer), and we certainly were as the brides each gave a syrup-y piece to camera about their great love, all soft-focus and cheesy music.
One by one, each of the gormless blokes said 'yes', and our cold, cold heart was showing disturbing signs of warming up.
They blew it with the last couple, though. Sonia was the most eager bride and Mick the most reluctant groom, and you could almost believe it would all go horribly wrong when ... the music stopped!
But no, Mick wasn't having genuine second thoughts. This was a cynical, scripted attempt to keep the tension going for a few minutes more. The look on poor Sonia's face told us that, as a piece of cold, casual cruelty, it was unsurpassed in reality TV history, and we wish it had ended some other way.
Also, does anyone else think that none of those people actually got married?