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Honest intentions

28 July 2017


Bronzed: the contestants on this year’s series of Love Island (ITV, Sundays)

Bronzed: the contestants on this year’s series of Love Island (ITV, Sundays)

GIVEN St John’s focus on agape as the key Christian doctrine, I as­­sumed that Love Island (ITV2, Sun­days) would be a documentary travelogue all about Patmos; but, having watched an episode, I am clear that the love in question is in fact eros. Or possibly porneia.

A clutch of young people — all bronzed, gorgeous, like unto Greek gods and goddesses, and like them barely clothed, are marooned in a luxury villa in Majorca, with the express purpose of falling in love with each other — or, at least, entering into the kind of relation­ship that will function for the time being as an adequate substitute for that happy state.

They are isolated from reality, pampered and cared for, and apparently share a series of double beds in a dormitory. In other words, it is pretty much like Cuddesdon.

I am impressed by that fact that the participants have paired off so neatly. Delving into my recollec­tions, I recall the bitter truth as far more along the lines of: one young woman attracts the attention of all the chaps, or all the girls swoons over one of the chaps. How en­­couraging that evolution has pro­gressed to the extent that nature has managed to jettison all that jealousy and heartbreak, and each Jack now happily finds his Jill.

ITVPaired off: Kem and Amber, the winners of this year’s Love Island (ITV, Sundays)Over the years, we have had many iterations of so-called “reality shows” in which the underlying im­­­petus has been whether, and when, and with whom any of the con­­testants would indulge in sexual intercourse. I suppose that we must accord to Love Island at least the accolade of honesty, in that this is now explicitly centre stage as the whole point of the exercise.

The historic building simply soaks up money; the debts currently stand at more hundreds of thou­sands of pounds than they care to admit; the patrician figurehead escapes his worries for a while by choosing the cloth for his next costume. Which great church or cathedral are we considering? To the relief of the C of E, none of us: a country house and its owner, Desmond MacCarthy, is the subject in Normal for Norfolk (BBC2, Monday of last week).

Mr MacCarthy is a gift for the TV: playing up to his plight as impoverished toff, hamming up for the cameras his eccentric vagueness, without hiding his love for Wiveton Hall and desperation to find some way to make it pay. This is an af­­fectionate portrait, relishing the beauty of house and estate. Perhaps the salvation will be religion, of a kind: the first yoga weekend is a sellout.

The Mash Report (BBC2, Thurs­day of last week), fronted by Nish Kumar, makes a good stab at hum­orous commentary on current affairs. As usual, much of the best material is self-referential, poking fun at the ludicrous conventions of popular media.

I particularly en­­joyed the se­­quences purporting to read out tweets as they were sent into the programme: universally, of course, critical and offensive. The pre­senter’s desperation revealed the re­­sounding “No” in response to his under­­lying question: does anybody out there love us?

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