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A Sunderland lecture is set to lay bare the subject of naked dating shows breaking the final taboo on mainstream British television.

Angela Smith, Professor of Language and Culture, will be asking ‘How the hell did this get on TV?’ as part of part of the University of Sunderland’s School of Culture Research Seminar Series.

The talk will delve into the 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 on Channel 5 with Paul O’Grady. 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, Professor Smith says that another relationship/make-over show, How to Look Good Naked (C4 2006-2012) has heralded a further development of this.

She says: “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 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 talk 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.”

The talk is the second of the University’s School of Culture Research Seminars. There will be light refreshments and a Q&A after the talk.

All are welcome to attend on Wednesday, March 21, 4pm-5pm, Room 104A, Reg Vardy Centre, Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s.

Contact: sarah.dobbs@sunderland.ac.uk

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