Tissues at the ready as My Mum, Your Dad (ITV1) touches hearts in a way that few other dating shows can achieve.
Billed as a middle-aged Love Island, it hits hard as the love bugs taking part are not only older but also more vulnerable, having been bitten once and potentially thrice shy.
Battered or bruised, grieving or just relieved, now they have been brought together for our enjoyment in a magnificent country home called The Retreat.
In the ten shows airing over the next two weeks, will they have the courage to take another risk for love, even if love has failed them so badly in the past?
The new show features aspiring daters in their 40s and 50s. Single parents nominated by their adult children for a second chance at love.
Tissues at the ready as My Mum, Your Dad (ITV1) touches hearts in a way that few other dating shows can achieve
As if that wasn’t enough triple vent cringe with an extra shot of Shudder syrup on the side, there’s another twist: the kids watch their every move in “The Retreat” from a nearby location called “The Bunker.” without the parents noticing.
“Calm down dad, it’s only the first day,” said an alarmed Christian as he watched his father Clayton have a strange alcoholic picnic with a glamorous woman named Natalie.
“I want to be the first to bite you,” Clayton joked to Natalie, flicking an (imaginary?) ant off her shoulder.
Then Jess was horrified by her father Roger’s attempts to have a witty conversation with his date Caroline. “He’s on a date and talking about my dog,” she whined.
Roger went on to tell Caroline that he loved the dog so much that he brushed his teeth with his own toothbrush. “Oh, Dad,” Jess cried, her head in her hands.
Host Davina McCall hops back and forth between The Retreat and The Bunker in high heels and white lace shorts, giving commands, compassion and comforting hugs as needed. “Is Davina off the table?” one of the handsome fathers asked at the start of the show. Hilarious, but a potential red flag? We’ll find out soon enough.
My Mum, Your Dad is one of ITV’s biggest shows this autumn and a mature competitor to the ever-popular Love Island series.
Look, I want to be honest. I’ve never managed to sit through a single episode of Love Island. Not even. Never.
Although loved by five million regular viewers, for me the contestants are too young, too self-absorbed, sometimes too stupid, often too vain to arouse much interest.
As they date and party in their Spanish villa, it’s hard to care whether they find everlasting love or a fly in their gazpacho. All those toned bodies and grumpy big lips swollen from injectables; everything waxed clean, including the original idea.
Unlike the islanders, the Retreaters have all lived lives, had children, been hurt, made important decisions, and had to think about others instead of themselves
It’s just too much. And the women are just as bad. But this one is different. A full-blown dating show with moms and dads going through midlife crises?
Unlike the islanders, the Retreaters have all lived lives, had children, been hurt, made important decisions, and had to think about others instead of themselves.
And there’s never been anything like this on mainstream television. First Dates – Channel 4’s hit dating show – is just dinner and a coffee; Married At First Sight UK, aka Channel 4, is an abomination; while the niche variants on streaming platforms like Netflix tend to target the under-30 age group.
Even Blind Date never targeted the 40-60 demographic: there was always a sense that they were too damaged, too desperate even, to be entertaining.
In fact, I already fear for some of the fragilities of “My Mother, Your Father.”
“The greatest desire of my heart is to connect with someone with whom I can live life and have fun,” said one mother early on. Quite a menacing water bomb imploding in the depths of a reality show, don’t you think?
I was also very worried about Monique and the piercing interrogation technique she used on Paul on their first date under a canopy of wisteria. “What things would you not accept in your partner?” she asked herself, not too casually.
“I don’t know, good question, I’m not sure,” he shouted, with the frightened look on his face of a man expecting a pair of thumbscrews to be produced from a clutch at any moment.
What did she think of the date afterwards? “It didn’t feel quite right.” “I don’t think he was very interested,” she said sadly.
Perhaps the biggest surprise were the scenes with the children in “The Bunker,” which have formed the emotional core of the series so far.
The love and concern these young people show for their parents is truly touching, and the emotional intelligence they displayed while discussing their parents’ complicated situations was a credit to them
The love and concern these young people show for their parents is truly touching, and the emotional intelligence they displayed while discussing their parents’ complicated situations was a credit to them.
The first episode ended with Roger crying and sitting alone after the first date he had since his wife’s death a year ago. A year ago! Across the country, millions of viewers put down their glasses of wine Monday night and chanted, “Roger, it’s too early!” Give yourself time to grieve, man.”
Roger told Caroline how his wife’s cancer had hit her so quickly. “She didn’t know at the time that it had gone into her brain,” he said, revealing that he also blamed himself for not seeking medical help sooner.
“You couldn’t know that,” reassured Caroline, who had masterfully extracted all this information from him from the start. She assured him that he had done all he could; Which of course he had.
What’s more, he had loved her to the end and was loved in return – and that’s all anyone could ask for. In “The Bunker,” Jess tried not to cry. Also.
My Mother, Your Father, 9pm, ITV1 and ITVX on consecutive weekdays for two weeks