THE Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, has criticised the involvement of the priest in the reality TV show Married at First Sight.
Dr Walker accused the show of “inappropriate and rather seedy behaviour”, in comments to The Times newspaper.
The priest in the programme, the Revd Nick Devenish, who is Team Vicar at St Mary and St Michael, Cartmel, Cumbria, said last week (News, 17 July) that he had “no regrets” about taking part in the show.
He appeared on a panel along with a psychologist, a sex therapist, and two anthropologists, matching couples for their compatibility. Out of 1500 applicants, three couples were considered to be a very good match, and two couples went on to marry in a civil service.
The final programme was screened on Channel 4 last night, showing the couples’ first five weeks of married life. After the five weeks, they were given the option of staying together or divorcing. Of the two remaining couples, Kate and Jason had split up after she discovered that he was active on the dating app, Tinder. Emma and James decided to stay together.
Dr Walker said that he would have advised Mr Devenish against taking part in the show, if he had been asked. “I am not accusing him of bad faith; I am sure he went into this hoping that it would change people’s lives for the better. If he had asked me, I would have advised him, ‘Don’t do it’; but, as a clergyman in the Church of England, he has the right to do what he sees as right.”
He went on: “The Church wants marriage to be successful, and we don’t achieve that by reducing it to a scientific experiment.”
On Monday, Mr Devenish re-tweeted the report from the Church Times. “People just want to find a lifelong partner,” he said.