When I came back from a friend’s wedding in the lake district (massive congrats to them both). I decided to keep the weekend quite free before the weekend of Mozfest. As I was mainly relaxing I decided to do Black Mirror season 3 in one long evening.
I got to episode 4 and couldn’t help but be blown away. So much that it played on the mind and I had to watch it again.
— Ian Forrester (@cubicgarden) October 25, 2016
Spoilers beyond this point! You were warned!
I even started wondering if I missed something myself…?
So I looked back through emails and found the one which started it all. An email from good friend Jane saying…
Not sure if this is something you’d be interested in but you are the dating King!!
Then the rest of the email was a forward from Adam at RDF TV
I hope you don’t mind me getting in touch. I’m currently Producing a brand new dating show called Undressed for RDF Television. Based on the psychological researcher of Arthur Aron ‘s 36 questions to fall in love. We want to prove it is possible to fall in love in 30 minutes.
We have had some really successful nationwide auditions thus far. We are still looking for more stunning singles to take part and I would love your help with this. Would be kind enough to circulate the attached flyer to your work colleagues, friends, family and clients? We are looking for a diverse mix of amazing singletons for our unique, and ground breaking new show.
Please do get back in touch with any questions you may have.
RDF Television is casting for an exciting new dating show called ‘Undressed’.
From the makers of ‘Secret Millionaire’, ‘Wife Swap’, ‘Shipwrecked’ and award -winning ‘The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds’ comes the dating show with a difference that dares to ask if it’s possible to fall in love with a complete stranger in just 30 minutes.
Inspired by psychological studies, we’re aiming to carefully match like-minded single people with the help of the UK’s first dating coach. They will embark on a series of questions in order to get to know one another in our exciting and unique scenario.
If you’re tired of Tinder and want to find love, apply NOW. We’re holding nationwide auditions over the next couple of weeks in Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle & London.
So what are you waiting for?
Apply now and email:
- Telephone Number
- Audition City
To *********rdftelevision.com or call us on 020 70** **** for an application form.
Applicants must be 18 or over & residents of the UK
I originally replied to Jane with a thanks but no thanks, however the 36 questions did intrigue me. Especially the idea of trying it out to see if accelerated intimacy is actually a thing or not.
Although I am very tempted…Its based on this…
01/11/fashion/modern-love-to- fall-in-love-with-anyone-do- this.html
Then after a bit of thought and a blog… I replied again with
Decided again, its not going to kill me to go for it. And it will be quite an experience if things work out
(…and what a experience it was!)
So you see, it wasn’t till the researcher/producer called me up at work on the afternoon of 29th March, and asked me the question about how comfortable I was with my body? At that moment I suddenly became very wise to what undressed really means.
I don’t remember much of it as I was drinking red wine from Bucharest with large vodka shots every time it gets a little awkward. It seems to be the new drinking game people are doing around the Undressed TV show.
Jane sent me an email about a new TV show called undressed which was based around the 36 questions to fall in love. I poo-pooed the whole thing a year earlier and then though got to be in it to really have a proper view on it. So I signed up, slightly fueled with Simon’s comment of if there’s a chance to have a great experience and walk with a great story, having not hurt/killed yourself or harmed anyone else. You should do it!
So I signed up and got the call from the researcher, which lead me to realise I would be in my boxers while experiencing accelerated intimacy with a total stranger. After looking it up and finding the italian series then experiencing one of the most insane skype calls/audition I ever will experience. Answering lots of OKcupid style questions, being matched, tickets to Wimbledon, shooting the whole thing, meeting a wonderful woman (Jess) on the foot of a bed. Then whisked away to catch a plane to Berlin the next morning.
I wrote up how I felt about the whole experience on the train home from London. Then after getting the confirmed date of me and Jess’s show date, we decided to record a 90min podcast which is really worth listening to the 90min podcast in mp3, ogg even torrent.
Ok all caught up
Mild spoilers contained below!
Then Friday 12th Aug evening comes around. I have something quick to eat, take some antihistamines (my friends have a cat) wait for them to kick in, then head to their flat with a bottle of Bucharest wine and some olives. We chat for a bit about the trailer for the show which I am in and caused a little stir with friends on fb, and start watching the show.
Ok wine and nibbles at the ready – #undressedTLC I'm almost ready to see what you did to our date
— Ian Forrester (@cubicgarden) August 12, 2016
Bear in mind, by the end I was pretty drunk from shots of vodka on top of wine. But it was certainly cringy but I have to say it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I had thought of them really turning it into a joke and frankly the chemistry and intimacy between myself and Jess certainly did shine through. They left out a lot of the conversation between us, I guess our conversation was too intellectual and progressive for 10pm TV on a subscription channel. Maybe a conversation about feminism sat next to “Say yes to the dress” would put viewers off?
— Melissa Driscoll (@MelonsD01) August 12, 2016
Maybe the moment I realised Undressed wasn’t about the questions undressing the other person but much more literally. I should have known better than start a progressive discussion about feminism? Interestingly although they cut out the feminism discussion (not a single thing is left of that) and removing our talk about each others background; which I thought they would leave especially since the description makes reference to Jess being well-travelled. They kept a small part of the Sapiosexual discussion. I’m sure Tom would love to hear the whole thing. I also found it interesting that they removed all references to Jess being bisexual too. Too much for the “say yes to the dress” audience to handle at 10pm?
#undressedTLC Jess and Ian are keen – you didn't ask them to start undressing yet!
— Kat (@KGord3) August 12, 2016
Myself and Jess did wonder if they would green screen the backdrop with orders and questions, or even put stupid things up to replace them. Especially the order to “Undress” Which never happen due to our nature to just go for it. I mean why waste time, there’s much more interesting things to get into.
— Claire Dodd (@GirlGeekUpNorth) August 12, 2016
There was a lot of shots of my builders bum, which wasn’t great but to be fair I had to buy new underwear specially for the show and never worn them before. I’m pretty glad nothing else was focused on, or at least I spotted nothing in HD.
The feedback has generally been really positive…
@cubicgarden quality stuff, Ian!
— Anders (@TriAnders) August 12, 2016
Thanks Anders, my very old neighbour from Bristol. I felt happy that I was portaied in a decent enough manor. Natalie said I was kind and courteous towards Jess which was lovely to see. I’m a gentleman and would have been pretty pissed off if edited to look like a total dick. Likewise Jess I felt came across well, shes a lovely woman with her own mind and opnions and that came across I felt.
@cubicgarden Wow, what a brave and bold thing to do! Well done 🙂
— alittlebit (@alittlebit) August 12, 2016
When one of my Newcastle mother hens says something like this, you can’t help but smile quite a bit. I haven’t quite told my parents about the show going out this week. That will be the difficult conversation later on tonight on the phone.
@cubicgarden Proud of you for pushing your social limits and doing it dude! Good job!
— Tim Dobson (@tdobson) August 13, 2016
I always compared it to the way some people will free climb a building (you know who you are Max), jump out of an airplane or perform a 900 on a skateboard at the age of 48! Most of us think they are simply crazy or extremely brave (or at least I do). To them its pushing their limits and they likely stand back and say wow that was great.
I was never going to jump out a plane or free climb a building, but I pushed my limits like I always said I would and gained a new friendship.
— Julie Howell (@HowellOWGreens) August 13, 2016
@cubicgarden I love it, I wish I had your guts…I hope you bought the ??
— Ngunan Adamu BBC (@NgunanAdamuBBC) August 13, 2016
Is it guts, stupidity or just taking a chance? We split the bill on the second date as all should do regardless (imho).
@cubicgarden how do you feel about it now it's all done and 'out there'? Would you do it again?
— Cat Bell (@peligringa) August 13, 2016
Would I do it again? Nope, its one of those one time deals. I was very fortunate to have such a great woman who instantly got me and I got her. I feel if I was ever to do it again, I wouldn’t be so lucky and end up with someone much less interesting.
I have to give a plus one to the production crew, they did a great job matching us and further proves its not about the algorithms.
It’s slighly by fluke that I posted about not living a normal life just before the showing of undressed. But it certainly stands… Last year going to Tokyo, this year appearing on TV (twice!) and in my underwear. I mean if anything the willingness to undress and be undressed is pretty powerful.
Whats planned for next year? Who knows…
I am assuming the last post (which you should read first) is the raw thoughts of mine, as I travelled back to Manchester on the train. It’s odd reading it now, but I don’t want to edit it, as it was quite an incredible experience and something hopefully others will consider when living their lives and opportunities come by.
Myself and Jess shared the post previously, so none of it is a surprise to her. But while thinking and wondering what the episode of undressed will be edited into, I started to think, wouldn’t it be great to hear the thoughts of Jess and mine together? I spoke to Jess and she said agreed wishing she had done something similar.
Of course I need to backtrack a little; I can hear some of you asking what happened next?
Well after going to Berlin, Northampton, London, Bucharest and Newcastle over May. Thursday 19th May we met up in London again, first time since the undressed experiment/experience. Things went well as we drank a lot of cocktails and had an italian meal near leicester square. We asked many of the everyday questions people ask including how old are you? What is your job? etc, etc… We also went into more depth over some of the deeper questions which we touched upon in the studio. Things went well and we decided although there was the attraction we are better as friends.
We have both dated in between and there is no hangups about being friends. Yes there was a lot of attraction, similar views and opinions; but to the question of accelerated intimacy… did it work? Yes it did. But like Keanu Reeves says on Speed…
“…you know,relationships that start under intense circumstances, they never last.”
Yes it comes to something when you start quoting from films…
We stayed in touch as friend and talked about the press coverage undressed was getting, including the mix up with the nude dating show naked attraction by Channel 4. Both of us don’t have sky or cable, so have been reliant on friends views and televisions. We’re both aware, that our signed contract means we couldn’t talk about it on social media. Hence the radio silence…
All caught up?
Knowing what TV is like, we talked about recording our thoughts on the experiment/experience. We did this on Tuesday evening and it was a fun thing to do. I was actually quite surprised how long we had gone on for, and glad we had gotten some snacks beforehand. With water and snacks, we recorded a 90 minute discussion with some breaks; about our experiences and how we felt about everything.
I was unsure where to put this recording but hopefully it offers a counter view to any/some of the criticism of our undressed TV appearance. Its funny and certainly puts the whole experience into perspective, something which isn’t really possible in a 10-15min reality TV show.
To be clear this was done under our own steam. TLC and RDF media didn’t know we were going to do this or have been made aware of it. I re-read the signed terms and conditions again, and see no reason why we would be breaking the signed terms. Listening back to it, I personally feel its actually a compliment to the experiement. They did a great job with the matching; myself and Jess were very happy. I feel this all comes across in the recording.
This was written on the train back up to Manchester. I would love to post it but I signed a non-disclosure agreement and I’ll have to wait till it’s shown. From my reading, it might also have to be later due to the legality of it being shown on encrypted subscription cable/sat.
So as some of you know, I took part in a dating show called undressed. The concept is quite simple, but not for the fearful. Think of it as First dates with balls.
Meet a blind date in a studio for the first time, take each other’s clothes off down to their underwear then lie on a bed next to each other while a big screen suggests a few of those 36 questions for you to ask each other. At the end of the time, make a decision if you would like to see each other afterwards.
Yes I just did just say striped to your underwear, by a stranger.
This is intense and rocket fuelled accelerated intimacy. You can’t really get much more accelerated than this? It certainly makes channel 4’s first dates look like a snail crawling across the floor. The whole experience lasts all of 30 mins.
Today started for me early as I caught the 9:35am train to London, then the northern line all the way to South Wimbledon, where I grabbed a coffee before the cab came and took me to the studio. The studio was a bit like the Pie factory in Media City UK, bit old and worn but functional. Sara the researcher who had been my main contact through the process was there to greet me and finally give me a giant hug. Other staff ran around doing their thing while another production researcher sat with me and led me around.
There was a man already in the changing room, who obviously already gone through the experience (he was wearing a night-gown) and was saying nothing about what it was like. After looking at my selection of clothes (I decided to pack most things (deliberately over pack to be sure, as the criteria for clothes which could not be worn was vast) so tomorrow I could just change a couple of things and hop on a plane to Berlin)
NO LOGOS OR BRANDING ON UNDERWEAR or CLOTHES, NO MATTER HOW SMALL
No thin or see-through fabrics as studio lighting emphasises transparency
No small polka dots
No small thin stripes
No busy /detailed patterns
No black clothes
No white clothes
Turns out the white shirt and plain-ish boxers I bought, was fine with the new summer jacket. I did have to pick the lighter trousers and not wear my striking blade trainers, due to the Adidas logos. But everything else passed the camera test. Then came the question about what to call myself, as the title of producer was too closely related to TV and they were worried about this. So in the end we settled on futurologist, which I only said as a joke. I shouldn’t have joked because likewise my firestarter title, got picked up on too.
After a bit of food, carefully chosen to not cause problems with my allergies and not drop any on my white shirt. Some make up, removing the hair oil I applied earlier. It was time for a the pre-interview.
The room was small, very hot and the whole process was tricky with the producer (Katherine?) rewording what I had said into more simple sound bites. I would reply to her question and it would be quite wordy, and she would boil it down quite a lot. Sometimes she would make it sound almost comical, and I wouldn’t repeat it because it was quite distorted from what I was trying to say. In the end, I would say what I was thinking or happy with and she would go with it or say the question in another way. I’m sure it will be taken out of context, which will be a shame but alas I knew it would.
During the interview, a couple of things stuck in my mind, which she dug deep into. feminism, bi-sexuality, red hair and curvy women. I didn’t know then but it turns out my blind date was most of these.
Afterwards, we waited for a bit before being taken to the actual film set. It’s worth saying I also had developed a cold this morning and was very stiffly. I was taking cold & flu meds and blowing my nose quite a bit, especially in the air-con controlled rooms. When showed the set and shown what I will need to do, I had the opportunity to stand by an open fire exit and breathe some fresh air; this did wonders for my nose, thankfully. While explaining to the onset production team, they had me put tissues under the pillow just incase I needed them in the middle.Of course I wouldn’t have access to my clothes, once in my boxers. Although they did say, I could find a way to pause the date and blow my nose. I was cursing myself for developing the cold on a critical day.
As I waited full clothed behind the scenes, looking out of the fire exit on a lovely bright blue sky. I couldn’t help but feel quite calm about everything. My biggest worry was actually my nose and since that seemed to be getting better, I thought more about who I was about to meet. What incase the team had got it all wrong, what incase she was the total opposite? What incase it was a setup like previously? I considered it all in that time at the fire exit. I also considered fact I hadn’t really thought too deeply about who the other person was? The casting producer, Anouska who was with me most of the day was lovely and honestly wanted the best for me. She had been involved in the production and choice of who was matched; and I could tell she had really high hopes for this match. She didn’t say anything but you can just tell (well at least I felt I could) when people are guanine about these things.
Then the moment came. In clearing my nose, I kinda forgot what I needed to do, once I marched along the spotlights and reached the end of the bed. The floor managers reminded me quickly. The crux was to meet at the bed look each other in the eye with some distance so the camera could see us and the big screen behind. Then she will take my clothes off and I’ll do the same. Once in our underwear, we need to sit on our side of the bed and questions will flash up for us to ask each other. The amount of questions and type of questions will depend on the conversation and how things are going. Aka we won’t answer all 36 questions and photos from our past will pop up for us to talk about.
Ok I can remember this, as I waited to cross the back of the screen, I saw her name. Jessie. Nice name I thought, must not forget her name (people who know me, will know I tend to forget names quickly). As I crossed behind the screen, and waited at the other end the impact of what I was about to do hit. I smiled as I was held and thought about all the people who told me don’t do this, its insane. I thought about Jane who originally sent me the email, saying this sounds like your kind of thing. This was going to be an experience which I will have fun telling people about in the future, so its time to experience accelerated intimacy.
I stepped out and my eyes were transfixed on Jessie who was standing there at the end of the bed dressed in a purple dress. I’ll be honest, when I say holly crap they got just the right looking woman. She was cute but the smile on her face was so warming and put me at ease straight away. I’m sure my face was a picture too. We embraced with a hug and if I remember a bit of a single kiss on the cheek. Stepping back to our marked spots.
Time to undress
We stood facing each other smiling in a slightly coy way, unsure what was going to happen next. The production staff told me they wouldn’t interject unless things went quiet and to just carry on normally. As normal as standing in a black TV set with mood lighting and a bed can be? Slightly unsure, we talked about undressing and Jessie walked over to me, as the production staff said before; I get undressed first then her afterwards. I wasn’t meant to help but Jessie was having a bit of problem with my shirt buttons and my slip on shoes. I honestly started feeling self-conscious when sitting at the end of the bed with her pulling on my shoes; it felt a little wrong so I helped a little. I remember thanking Jessie for nicely folding up my clothes on the end of the bed. The whole undressing wasn’t as painful as I’d first imagined, but I feel that was because Jessie made it so.
Anyway, once I was undressed we stood back at the spots looking at each other. Then I moved across to undress her. I was having a slight problem with the buckle on her shoes and the only way to solve it was to get on my knees and pull quite a bit. We laughed about it a little and finally it was done. Stepping around the back of Jessie to unzip her dress I was surprised to find there was no zip. Jessie told me I would need to pull the whole thing over her head. I tried to be gentle but firm about it but it was tricky and not very elegant. Finally we did it and I stepped back around the front to see Jessie in her underwear. Yes I was impressed but honestly I was focused on her face and that warm smile.
We climbed on to the bed from our respected sides. Jessie was sat up a little more than myself. I noticed around the set there was quite a lot of cameras in the black background, it was obvious but not as painful as first imagined. Anyway, it didn’t matter because my attention was firmly on Jessie. The big screen in front of us, finally kicked into action with pictures of Jessie’s past as a young child. She talked about her past and the pictures changed a little. I asked questions of her and frankly we just had a nice conversation; while lying on a bed in our underwear.
Then it became my time to have pictures of my past and places I had been.
I don’t know how it happened but we just kept talking and talking. The screen would somethings jump in with some probing questions. For example, at one point it just said… “Feminism.”
Jessie instantly said this must be her; and to be fair I just sat back and let her chat. There was a slightly apologising tone but I jumped in and said how impressed I was with her rich history around feminism. We then talked about how I would only date feminist and the problems I’ve had previous around women who don’t identify with being one. It was a great discussion which was only cut short by the screen throwing out the word… “Sapiosexual.”
Jessie had not heard the term before but I explained and yes Tom, I did say it was heavily dismissed as a sexuality. But as we talked about it, the deeper the conversation became. Not that I’m saying it was wasn’t already deep. We just kept chatting and chatting, we shifted position a little (I tried to sit up a bit, sure mum wouldn’t be happy with my lying position). Every once in a while we would go on a tangent and the screen would ask one of the 36 questions.
From memory we got…
What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
Tell your partner something that you like about them already
Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner and tell your partner something that you like about them already came up
Rocket fueled intimacy
I was feeling very comfortable with Jessie and the whole thing, and the production staff could tell. The questions got more about physically smelling and touching each other. So at one point Jessie was asked to describe how I smell and me straight afterwards. The only way to do this was to really get close, and it wasn’t uncomfortable at all. After a quick chat about how smell is important, the next question from the screen/production staff was to hug each other for 20 seconds. We kneeled in the centre of the bed and hugged. Jessie was warm and very huggable. I was trying to keep things polite for TV (if you know what I mean), which was tricky but I think it was ok. We moved back to our lying down positions on the bed and talked about what just happened. But things were short-lived when the screen interrupted with the next question
Would we kiss each other?
Now honestly as the question echoed in my mind, I looked at Jessie and there was a voice reminding me of my 2016 new years resolution
Make some bold moves with my love life
But the biggest factor by far was the honest & open look on Jessies face. She was ever so lovely and I wanted to kiss her. I always said to myself, I wouldn’t do what I’m not comfortable with, even if that means walking off the set. Especially if the chemistry wasn’t there. Honestly I would have declined or gave her a peak on the cheek. But no, I wanted to kiss her and so we did.
Yes, lying on the bed kissing and cuddling for a short while. I’m sure the production staff must have been so happy with themselves, but not as happy as I was. (ironically last year, I mentioned something about the escalation from eye contact, free hugs and to kissing a stranger, wonder what Elizabeth would think now?)
The experiment/show was coming to the end and like the italian version, we had 60 seconds to ask any more questions we may have before answering the question, would we want to see each other again by pressing on tablet screen yes or no. We both pressed yes (it was obvious) but the production staff couldn’t help but add tension to things (unknown to us at the time). The big screen spun between yes and no on both sides (same as the italian version)
Jessie’s yes was set but my side kept spinning and spinning. It was painful and we even talked about it out loud. I had said yes and pressed it again on the tablet to make sure it had registered correctly. Finally after a few more spins, it was a yes | yes. We shifted back on to the bed waiting and chatting between ourselves as the lights went down.
End of the experiment
We then were separated off and gave another interview about how things had gone. The interview had to be done in our underwear, to show it was after the experiment. There was quite a few questions about what Jessie had said including her feminist answer, the smell and of course the kissing.
I was also told to reflect on her looks and some of the questions I answered. This went on for quite sometime but it wasn’t as bad as the first time. I’m sure there will be some slicing and dicing for the show.
There was one last thing to do after getting dressed getting my things and having Sara and my production runner express how much they loved it and always hoped it would be a great match. I congratulate them on such a great pick.
I waited in a room for Jessie to finish her exit interview and I was joined later. We embraced quite a bit and after some pictures taken together including a bunch of those ones you do at weddings. Swapping numbers, we shared a cab to South Wimbledon station together. It was a shame to leave early, but I have a flight to Berlin booked tomorrow morning (5am). We travelled together discussing what had happened on the show, till Clapham, where Jessie continued her journey on another line home. I hadn’t quite clocked it was still a Tuesday and I couldn’t get on a train till 7pm (due to London peak time hours). But by the time I could text Jessie, it was too late.
It would have been great having some more private time together, but I went to our Euston Square offices, got changed in the bathroom and caught the first off-peak train home to Manchester. The train I’m on now.
I was very pleased with the way things went, except the questioning which I know will get manipulated. Being in my underwear on TV still isn’t a thing I would do again but it really worked out. It’s a shame I had to go straight away but I am going to stay in touch. Even if things don’t work out, the experience we shared was so unique and the chemistry was pretty electrifying.
I always did say… The drive to push my limits socially, is fun to me. This was fun but honestly without Jessie, it would have been far less fun and enjoyable.
Watch this space….
That was the end of the post.
Most of you are wondering what happened next? Well theres a blog and audio for that.
Well-travelled Jess and Ian’s clever chat suffers when attraction takes over
or as another guide put it
…another couple find physical attraction getting in the way of talking
It’s not streamed (you can imagine, it’s not exactly a HBO, showtime, etc category) or on freeview. Luckily some friends are going to let me watch it live, while we drinking red wine and I cover my eyes! Hey I might even tweet now and then…
I have not seen the show, or have an idea how it was edited, plus I can’t tell you the outcome till afterwards. It certainly fits with my last blog post, not seeking a ordinary life.
Look out for a blog post I wrote straight afterwards and a special recording after the show.
I asked the question if anyone would want to see me date? But it was related to First Dates, now you get to see more than you expected… The undressed date some of you have been waiting for is… Friday 12th August. I got the email telling me it will be shown, and I will receive a DVD in the post after TX (transmission), which I was surprised about.
I still have not seen a whole episode from the start to the finish uninterrupted. The press coverage has been interestingly negative but it still seems to hold a reasonable user rating in places. Had hoped to have a few friends around for a live showing, but it’s not going to happen at least till the DVD gets sent out or my friends work out how to copy from their Sky+ boxes. Undressed is also now on TVDB and themoviedb.
I may have a surprise in store along with the blog I wrote on the train back up to Manchester. It’s all very fitting as I watch season 2 of unreal (undressed/unreal, similar right?) and been thinking more about the manipulation in reality TV. Most people are very surprised when I tell them, it was all shot in one go with no interruptions except the screen asking questions and prompting what to do next.
Its taken ages for me to finally watch part of TLC’s undressed, mainly because I don’t own Sky, Cable or BT. I cut the cord on subscription TV over 15 years ago. Since then I have been seeking other ways to view it, I would have imagined it would be online somewhere but it doesn’t seem to be the case (I won’t say anything more about how I watched it, but hyperfast broadband and friends helps)
I didn’t see it from the start to the end, but I saw enough to learn its a lot shorter than I first thought it would be. There didn’t seem to be a lot of the build up you get with Channel 4’s First Dates which is a shame because I imagine it will suffer because of this. Its too easy to point the finger and shout nonsence or garbage when its cut a certain way.
Thats about all I can say for now, sure once I watch the whole thing. I’ll comment in full.
A certain person (rather not say at the moment) sent me a link to the vice piece about undressed… of course its going to be so snarky but also funny, so I had a read. Here’s some highlights…
Surprisingly it is not. Undressed feels like an odd peek 20 or 30 years into a dystopian future, when couples are picked via a database of their likes, dislikes, genetic inclination and blood, marched by armoured police into designated romance rooms, and instructed to kiss and undress. Congress and children follow. The state has abolished the concept of natural love. Big Brother is watching you. Big Brother is watching you fuck.
Ok yes I can see a Black Mirror episode with these as one of the storylines. You only have to fast forward whats happening in Tokyo with the local government paying bars to put on dating nights.
…watch First Dates and all the girls who have come down to Manchester for it are thrown by the idea of eating a meal with another human being. Is this 2016, now? Is it so savage out there that girls can’t even get a date? Do we communicate exclusively through dick- and tit-pics, now, never having to meet? Has technology thrown us so low?
They are litteraly writing the Black Mirror episode.
Watch enough reality TV and you will see that the motivation people have for going on it splits neatly into three:
- They are an idiot;
- They want to be famous;
- They have a weird mental blockade caused by some damage in their past, emotional or physical or otherwise, and they need – deeply need – to work this through by going on television, somehow television is the only thing that can cure them, they need to hold their nose and dive into the icebath of TV, and like Jesus it will cure them;
I had a good laugh at this one…
My motovation didn’t fit into any of these 3. I am curious and as you will read in my blog post once I can post it, and to be reading previous ones. I kind of pushed myself into it as it would be a interesting experiment.
Some could/would say mybrushwithdeath might have something to do with it and sure I would agree. However I don’t have a weird mental blockade and certainly don’t want it cured on TV (not that I believe it anyway). Regular readers know how much I hate TV culture.
Theres a lot more I want to say but I can’t right now…
Ok so I can safely say that thing I mentioned a few times and then went quiet on… (NDA’s , secrecy, etc). Undressed Is coming to the UK on Friday 15th July. As you can imagine and see, I took part in the experiment hence why I couldn’t say anything else about it, but now its got a transmission date.
Of course I still can’t tell everything but all will be revealed soon enough.
There is a blog I wrote on the train home which I’ll post once its gone out. But as I told the production team, I don’t watch TV much and never owned Sky, Cable or any subscription service since 1999 with ondigital. So I won’t actually get to see it live. I’m sure my friends and enemies will fill me in on all the details and I’ll be very aware of the spotlight effect, as I watch myself in the trailer (yes that is me..). It was quite an experience and one heck of a story to be told. But besides the blog I got more plans in store.
It’s interesting to watch the trailer, to see the range of other people they did experiment with. I was always told it would be different ages, different bodies, different genders, etc. So no lies there at least. Because the italian version certainly isn’t so representative.
The Horizon episode: How to find love online just aired and here’s a blog I wrote straight after filming for the show. I have no idea what just happened or if I’ll even be involved, but judging by whats been seen so far, it looks like I might be. I trust BBC Horizon have done everybody proud but he’s my view on what happened that afternoon in central London.
I’m writing this the morning after the BBC Horizon dating experiment in central London (Sunday 13th September 2015).
@cubicgarden wasn't there a bit in the T&Cs to say not to talk about it on social media? Or am I imagining that? Anyway, see you later 😉
— Maren (@juicy_pigeon) September 12, 2015
We were asked and signed a contract saying we wouldn’t talk about the programme till the TX (TV transmission date). However the programme should have gone out by now.
It was an interesting time and the experiments were quite good too. From what I gather on the day, Hannah Fry wrote an algorithm to match people and Xander? I heard Xander is going on 3 dates today (day after the experiment). With the algorithm, she (Hannah) needed a large pool of people to match him with but also she wanted to see if it worked for other people. Hence the afternoon-evening of Horizon dating (I’m sure this will change).
Ok being brief (very hard for me). We were divided into 4 groups using colour wrist bands, then did some rough speed dating (I say rough because it there was no real flow, no direction and we were kind of left to get on with it, with the occasional call to change).
The four groups were…
- Told everybody in the group was matched and we actually were (this was my group – Yellow)
- Told everybody in the group was matched but that was actually was a lie
- Told no body in the group was matched but actually everybody was
- Told no body was matched and no body actually was (control group?)
You can see how this all works right?
The results were actually quite good and seemed to go with the algorithm and the priming of what were somewhat told. Hannah seemed confident it might actually work beyond this stage.
There was another test but to be honest, I got pulled away to do some stuff in a back room to the waiting camera about online dating. So much I wanted to say, but was told to keep it brief and look directly down the lens of the camera (hate that). Anyway I briefly touched on things related to my experiences and observations, should be interesting enough.
After some finger food and lots of chatting with various people, the results were announced to the room. They were cavatted with the notion, it was getting most matches in the room rather than most ideal matches.
Regardless, our usernames were read out and we stuck our hands up to show pairings.
My match was a woman who I had speed dated earlier but thought we didn’t really get on because of my lack of knowledge about the smiths. Can I remember her username? Nope, but we did take a couple selfie on both our phones.
Weirdly enough, my match lived in Bristol, had lived less than a mile away about the same time I lived in Croydon, London and shared similar views on certain things. Of course the location stuff is a coincidence, as there was nothing in the questionnaire about previous locations, etc. But interesting one regardless.
We chatted away then we talked about circumstances currently. I wrongly guessed her age and it turned out we were quite distant on age and places in our lives. She had 3 kids, while I’m obviously child-free. It was clear the algorithm did work but only on the matching part, but did not factor in all the other things like looks, circumstance, desires, etc. The stuff which is unquantifiable?
End of the night, she left and we said goodbye while a bunch of us went to the Yorkshire Grey pub (George would be so proud) to discuss and carry on into the night. It was a warm night, so we sat outside on the benches, telling dating stories to each other. It was an nice end to the evening.
Everybody I spoke to had a good time they also had some good and bad stories about dating in recent times. The matches were somewhat hit and miss. Some numbers were exchanged but to be honest I think there will be maybe one or two who actually carry it further than a date or two (which still means Hannah’s algorithm would beat the year of making love!) . My match I’m unlikely to meet again, we didn’t swap anything and the pleasantries at the end of the night said it all. The initial excitement just seemed to break down once we discovered the difference in lifestyle, age and place in life.
Over drinks much later, a couple of us stayed out till about 1am. mr30notsoflirty, asked me if there were others I was interested in. I said yes and funny enough she was in my speed dating round, which meant she was likely matched quite highly with myself (remember I was in the one which was matched and were told so). I got a hint there might be some actually similarity in outlook earlier on but then got pulled away to do the pieces to the camera. There was another lady who stayed out later but had to get a train back to Kent, who was quite intriguing asking lots of questions about the scientific nature of everything, especially when I mentioned my geekness for dating. At the market place bar, we talked briefly and she said the comment of the night.
“You smell really good…!”
“well thank you” I said in return with a puzzled look on my face
Over all, it was intriguing and I’m happy to say Horizon did me and the BBC proud. It was pretty fluid, they seemed to get lots of footage (which I wish they would talk to BBC R&D about, as each couple have a interesting tale or two I’m sure). Met some lovely people and my fears of the Year of making love were ironed out with the small contained venue, good people and a professional but friendly crew.
Just hope this is reflected in the show when it went live…
On watching the programme, I was surprised how much of the vox pops from me made it into the programme. The show was mainly about Xander and the challenge of getting him a decent match. But it was clearly me on screen…
— Jimmy Lee (@MrJimELee) April 25, 2016
In the end, it was a stalemate between the matching algorithm and random choice, which was a good conclusion I felt. Makes you think as you sink money and time into online dating, right? Also summing up why I find this area so interesting.
A couple of things interested me, Helen Fisher and Lucy Brown‘s theory sounds interesting but once again where’s the paper or study? Prof Eli Finkel is absolutely right its somewhat rubbish and theres lots of papers proving it, even OKcupid’s OKtrends blog (and the deepend blog) doesn’t go into enough detail or give up the data for others to pull apart themselves. Xander was also wrong to say he was skeptical of algorthims, it was the premise which he wasn’t happy with. Even Hannah at one point said she wasn’t sure about the data which drives the algorthim she wrote.
I have already publiclly said it just doesn’t add up and the number element looms large. Hence why I chalked it up to the birthday paradox after much thought.
While watching the show, my twitter and facebook was pretty busy, so busy I had to watch it again on iplayer. But some things came up which I wanted to reply to…
There's a touch of flirting going on, and I don't mean the guinea pigs #Horizon
— Ben Scoble (@benscoble) April 25, 2016
Xander and Hannah! Yeah they were very comfortable with each other, a few of us kept saying surely the two should get a room? But we all knew Hannah was happily married, but was so strange that Xander finally met a woman who from the back looked like a shorter version of Hannah. I actually thought it was her at first glance. Then I remember talking to some of the guys on the day, saying how she was very attractive.
— Ian Forrester (@cubicgarden) April 25, 2016
During the show there was some comments about the lack of sexual diversity, and I wanted to say, yes most were straight but there were a few gay couples too. The cameras missed a lot on that day but thats TV for you. There was also a diverse age range from quite young right up to much older than myself. Culturally it was quite diverse also, the BBC certainly did a good job and its important to once again say what you saw on screen wasn’t just it.
As a whole it was good and enjoyable, BBC Horizon did a good job touching on aspects of online dating problems and joys. Even down to Xander’s text exchange at the end of the programme. The whole worrying about what to say how long it takes for someone to come back to you is a real drama in modern dating. Although I do feel for the woman who went on the date with Xander because shes going to get a lot of angry women looking for her now…
— Mr30NotSoFlirty (@Mr30NotSoFlirty) April 25, 2016
Its weird how things all seem to happen at once… First my TEDxManchester talk, then a chance enounter on BBC News 24 Live stream with LJ Rich, then me and Kate’s listening project recording is edited for Radio4. Now the BBC Horizon documentary about finding love online.
The internet has transformed every part of our lives and is now changing arguably the most important – our love lives. Internet dating is a cultural phenomenon and is now the second most common way that couples meet. But what is the best way to make the online search for love successful? What are the ‘matchmaking’ algorithms that the big companies use? Do they really deliver the goods, is it really clever marketing and actually a giant con – is there really any science?
Funny enough Mr30notsoflirty and Maren I met through the show filming (as you will find out soon, in a post I wrote straight after the filming). We were talking about the trailer on twitter, and Mr30 said he spotted, Mr30 and some other people. I watched a couple times and spotted myself! Scary stuff!
So look out on Monday 25th April at 9pm – 10pm on BBC Two. It will be fancinating to see how its all crafted into a hour show and how much success they have in the matches compared to the Birthday paradox.
Hannah Fry the pressure is on…!
In the continuing saga of undressed. I had an interesting awakening while waiting for my audition on Wednesday morning. They were very late but finally got hold of me on Skype.
During the Skype text conversation, I was asked if I was somewhere private. I was thinking this is an odd question? Then they said…
Just a reminder – we are doing these skypes in underwear
They might as well have said…
Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin…
To be honest I was very surprised (actually quite shocked), same as I was when the researcher called me back and told me the show involved being undressed physically not by the 36 probing love questions alone, as I had taken it.
Yes so I was wrong again and although I thought they were joking, it became clear it wasn’t. I had a decision to make, go forward or drop out. I went ahead with it, but I was thinking boy oh boy if this is some kind of sextortion scam, I’m in deep!
To be fair it makes a little sense, because it was an audition and I assume in the physical auditions it would be the same. Don’t get me wrong it was bloody weird having them fully clothed watching me on a webcam!
People I described this to, have asked
Why? why are you doing this madness?
A while ago I was listening to someone talking about how they were planning to climb something insane in the middle of nowhere. I thought about it and on reflection, I now feel some people challenge themselves physically (climbing mountains, tall buildings, running across busy roads, etc), some mentally and I guess for me socially?
I’m not putting myself in danger from my view and it is a good yarn (lumbs law). Yes I guess being on TV in my underwear does come with some reputation damage? But I’m not about to run down the gym, I’m just me and I’m happy in my own skin with that.
It reminds me of when I went to the Japanese onsen (温泉) in Tokyo Dome over night. Going naked in front of a bunch of japanese business men I’ve never met before was crazy but I did it. Wearing underwear seems a lot more acceptable at least. Plus frankly if you seen me swim or about to go to sleep… it’s not much different?
The drive to push my limits socially, is fun to me. Don’t get me wrong its also slightly terrifying but like standing at the top of a mountain, its certainly exciting and takes a certain person to do so.
Remember those 36 questions? The ones I referred to in the stop following stupid dating steps, get some advice blog post a while ago. Mandy Len Catron’s essay, has spun out a lot of takes but recently a friend pointed me towards a experiment involving the exact same 36 questions.
Here’s the complete list.
- If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner, who would it be?
- Would you like to be famous? In what way?
- Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
- What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
- When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
- If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30 year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
- Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
- Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
- For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
- If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
- Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
- If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
- If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
- Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
- What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
- What do you value most in a friendship?
- What is your most treasured memory?
- What is your most terrible memory?
- If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
- What does friendship mean to you?
- What roles do love and affection play in your life?
- Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
- How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
- How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
- Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … ”
- Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … ”
- If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
- Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
- Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
- When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
- Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
- What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
- If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
- Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
- Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
- Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.
Then… you have to look into your partner’s eyes for four minutes. In silence, just like the eye contact experiment.
So I’m thinking especially since being involved in the eye contact experiment and a few other things. Maybe it could be fancinating to do, but all the stuff I’ve seen is more for giggles and jokes, hence my reludance about the whole thing. What it sounds like you need, is something on the line?
TLC, the pay TV entertainment channel has commissioned UNDRESSED, an innovative and experimental dating show that sees two perfect strangers undress each other and climb into bed on a first date in an exciting new series that accelerates intimacy and explores the accepted rules of attraction.
Guess who decided to sign up?!?
Yeah I know!
To be fair when I applied, I thought about it long and hard, especially with my previous experiences. But didn’t really take into consideration the fact of being half naked on TV. I hadn’t looked it up till now. The Italian version is on youtube…
Its very intimate, but my worries about it being trashy is slightly relaxed at least. Althought the press have had a field day with it all.
The couple have 30 minutes alone together wearing nothing but their underwear, during which they will be given “probing” questions via a screen and tasks “designed to rapidly foster relationships”. Blimey – it makes First Dates look like the Antiques Roadshow
The unique dating show has already been a hit in Italy, where the contestants were often seen to be embarrassed when told to strip before throwing off their inhibitions along with their clothes.
In my TedX Manchester orginal slide deck, I had a bit about accelerate intimacy. Well this is certainly accelarated! 30mins at Mach 1…