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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison


The TV network had long been concerned about falling ratings for our dating show. In response, we introduced new ideas like gay dating, S&M dating, under-age dating and cross-species dating. In retrospect these were poor strategies, loosing much of our traditional audience and, in the case of the latter two, leading to the imprisonment of the producer.

The solution came with a new dating show called Adultery. This was hot enough to attract new viewers but not so hot as to offend more than the handful of sad individuals with nothing better to do with their lives than write to television ‘Points of View’ programmes. After all, much of the population, most politicians, celebrities, members of the Royal Family and many church leaders indulged in the activity.

The concept was to generate three shows. The first was Adultery in which a married contestant would pick a partner for an illicit affair. This was more complex than previous date shows as the spouse of the contestant had to remain unaware. Techniques were used such as rigging the TV at the home of the contestant’s spouse to show a different programme while Adultery was broadcast. Also close friends and relatives had to be bribed to keep the secret.

The second show was Adultery - the victim in which the details of the subterfuge were shown, and covert filming documented the experience of the spouse. The third show was Adultery - the confrontation in which the unsuspecting contestant and spouse were brought to a studio under a pretext and were then asked to watch Adultery and Adultery - the victim in front of a live audience.

The ratings were the highest the network had ever seen. We only ran the shows for one season, however. Originally that was because we believed that no contestants would volunteer once they realised they were being set up. In fact, hundreds of couples applied, but we felt it undermined the gritty reality and tragedy of the show to use couples who would do anything just to get on TV.

We got some other spin-off documentaries on the next season, nevertheless, which maintained the all important ratings. Adultery - the divorces was very successful as was Adultery - the murders. Sadly the latter included the untimely deaths of the show’s new producer and the Chief Executive of the network, which were also explored in Adultery - the burning down of the TV studio.

The TV potential of the idea is about exhausted now, although we are doing one more debate from our new studio to explore the ethics of TV networks wrecking people’s lives to produce cheap television.

The merchandising should maintain the revenue for a while with videos of the shows and sweatshirts depicting the on-camera killings. This might lead to a further televised debate on the ethics of cynically exploiting the lives wrecked by TV networks producing cheap television.

Where should the date show go next to maintain audience ratings? We have no firm plans though I think, in the past, there has been an overemphasis on willing contestants...