Belfast Telegraph

Give this meat market show the chop, Gavin

By Jane Graham

Channel 5's new reality show The Bachelor gives 25 young women the opportunity to vie for a date with Gavin Henson. You couldn't make it up.

What's next, a dog dancing contest to win a shooting weekend with Colonel Gaddafi?

The Bachelor sees a rivalrous group of glamour girls, models, beauty therapists and other bikini-friendly businesswomen fight for Henson's attention using any means necessary while they all share a luxury villa for five weeks.

Henson, a part-time Welsh rugby player, says he can't wait to get stuck into the challenge as he feels "the time is right for me a find a girl to hopefully spend the rest of my life with''.

It's wonderfully cheering to hear Henson so optimistic about love after last year's (surely) painful break-up with his fiancée and mother of his two children, Charlotte Church, after a six-week engagement.

And I'm sure he'll throw himself heart and soul into the experience, probably upping his body-waxing and double-dip bronzing sessions to three times a week in anticipation.

He certainly makes a good catch, so long as his pathological vanity, regrettable dim-wittedness and penchant for getting drunk and fighting doesn't put you off.

Henson's enthusiasm aside, I can't help feeling queasy - or should that be strongly contemptuous - about the prevalence of the idea that single men are a prize that women should be willing to relinquish their self-respect to secure. It's a premise that modern-day TV execs seem to like, having used it for Mr Right (the one that saw presenter Ulrika Johnson nab a [brief] husband), Farmer Wants A Wife, and ITV's Take Me Out, in which a deeply uncharming Paddy McGuinness invites a panel of intellectually-challenged fame groupies to impress a man with banter, flirting and hints of a shared interest ("My favourite telly show? The Only Way Is Essex!" "Shut up! Me too! Let's make babies!".)

Ladies, the availability of young men willing to take you for a drink in the hope that you'll have sex with them is not low. There's no crisis, we're not talking Atlantic cod here. So let's not volunteer to be lined up like fattened hogs for distinctly average chaps to choose their favourite from.

There may be no swaying you from the guarantee of a moment's worth of TV spotlight and a few months of being verbally abused on the nation's internet chatrooms but surely the issue of personal dignity still has some currency, even among the TOWIE generation?

As for you Gavin, while I acknowledge that most single young guys on a promise of this nature would pirouette over hot coals for the go-ahead, have you given much thought to your future YouTubing daughter?

You've evidently decided that the integrity of your relationship with your ex - who's unlikely to retain much respect for you after this particular rebranding exercise - is of little consequence.

But doesn't it bother you just a tad that your kids will grow up knowing that dad liked to choose his soul-mate from a queue of celeb-hungry blondes paid to share a camera-furnished house with him?

In the week that 14 men were arrested in Manchester with suspicion that they plied vulnerable young girls with booze and drugs. then whipped them off to 'sex parties' to be passed from man to man like a late-night kebab, perhaps we should think again about how our media presents eligible women to eager men.

And maybe go easy on the meat market angle. Just a thought.

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