The Undateables

By | March 19, 2012

I found Saturday evening too much to be on Twitter. The thought that an incredibly fit and healthy 23yr old footballer could be fighting for his life and online, people were wishing him dead for no other reason than his skin colour and the football team he played for….unbelievable.

And then this appeared on my TL, a new prime-time show on Channel 4, the billboard is below:


It’s both disturbing and offensive on so many levels. To those adults with any of these disabilities, it gives the impression that no-one will ever find them…dateable. What happened to inner beauty? To loving someone for who they are? This sort of advert is only going to encourage more of the negative discrimination we are witnessing in Society.

Of course, Channel 4 are defending it by saying:
“The Undateables is a programme about people looking for love – but with a difference.

The series follows a range of people whose ability to form relationships is affected by an impairment or challenging condition – such as being deaf, having Tourette’s or Aspergers. The programme charts their quest to find love in an image-obsessed world where people are too quick to make snap judgements or assumptions based on first impressions – and even consider such people to be “Undateable”.

With the help of one of the biggest personal introductions agencies in the UK, and using pro-active searching methods to find perfect dates, the series looks to help find love for those who until now found it difficult to date. Looking for matches within both the non-disabled and disabled communities, the series sets out to revolutionise the dating scene and turn society’s prejudice on its head.

The Undateables is an uplifting and moving series exploring how society’s attitude towards anyone who digresses from what is considered to be the norm can have a profound impact on those peoples lives.”

Fair enough you might think and if it raises awareness of how lonely life can be for disabled young adults – all well and good. I hope it is done in a sensitive manner but I still do not like the title and if I see that billboard anywhere, my first thought will be to rip it down.

Comments/RTs as ever welcome, I think I’m going to try and get this post out there a lot today Jx

Update on 26th March:
I’ve emailed my blog and comments to both Channel 4 and their twitter address @4viewers. I will update this post with any responses received.

Update on 27th March:
Response received from Channel 4 – see below:

Dear xxx xxxxxx

Thank you for contacting Channel 4 Viewer Enquiries regarding THE UNDATEABLES.

We appreciate your concerns about this programme, as you feel it is insulting to people with impairments or disabilities. However, we can assure you that this is not the intention. The title conveys how they may feel when it comes to love or how some of society may see them, but it is not intended to label them as such; rather, to challenge this view.

We can assure you that all the participants are fully aware of the nature of the programme and are keen to participate.

The programme makers are working closely with a number of experts in the field, to ensure all aspects of the series are handled in an insightful and sensitive manner. We hope that you will take the time to watch the programme to make up your own mind.

Nevertheless, please be assured your complaint has been logged and noted for the information of those responsible for our programming.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact us. We appreciate all feedback from our viewers; complimentary or otherwise.


Angie Young
Channel 4 Viewer Enquiries

For information about Channel 4 have a look at our FAQ section at


Facebook Comments


Vivien Sabel (@viviensabel) on 19th March 2012 at 11:18 am.

Mmm what a shocking (but I suppose that what the TV company wants..the shock factor) title. I have recently watched and become enraged about a programme on TV called Britain’s Missing Models. The programme encourages disabled women to enter the inaccessible world of modelling. I was horrified as I watched one of the people involved forcing a deaf wanna-be model to speak instead of using her FIRST & PREFERRED language of British Sign Language. What’s next…forcing blind people to read!! Disgusting.


Claire on 19th March 2012 at 11:26 am.

I have an invisible illness, oh multiple illnesses should I say. We should not be seen as undateable. We are humans who just happen to have a slightly steeper mountain to climb in life. You have made an excellent point! All billboards with this advert on should be removed immediately.


Kelly Barrett on 19th March 2012 at 11:31 am.

I totally agree with you. Most people will see this poster as a stand alone and not watch the programme so many negative perceptions will be reinforced rather than challenged. I have a teenage family member with one of the conditions on the poster and they would be very hurt by this poster and devastated if it went up near their school. Attention grabbing, tongue in cheek advertising campaigns may work for gypsy wedding type programmes but not when they deal with some if the more vulnerable members of our society. I am complaining to to the ASA today.


zhiv on 19th March 2012 at 12:14 pm.

What about older people with mental health problems/issues? Are we included in the search for love? Or is C4 only concentrating on the ‘it’s not their fault they’re disabled, awww, aren’t they brave’ kind of ‘acceptable’ disability model that the media has been touting forever?


Deb at aspie in the family on 19th March 2012 at 12:44 pm.

Hi Jeanette; you may have followed my TL on this issue but I had an interesting discussion with someone in the PR world about this. they argued that shock tatics like this had the potential to change perspectives and raise awareness that those with disabilities can have the same dreams as everyone else. It was a fair debate and I respected her views but I argued that I thought it was a risky strategy because unless someone goes on to watch the programme (assuming the programme is done with dignity) then I feel such sensationalist advertising will feed some peoples bigotry. I saw a billboard that only drew attention to disabled people and which gave out an immediate message that they were undateable and I was not comfortable with it. Equally worrying is the context the billboard is being shown in. We’re living in a country where government rhetoric is sending out very negative views about disability and when bigoted people see this billboard then I think it feeds negative stereotyping further. Such shock tactics are thoughtless and irresponsible in my opinion. Deb


Jenny on 19th March 2012 at 1:21 pm.

If the programme is so well and the topic is being sensitively handled, why are the adverts designed to appeal to those who will mock, laugh and abuse disable individuals?


Who is Undateable? | Indigo Jo Blogs on 19th March 2012 at 1:41 pm.

[…] Channel 4 has been advertising a forthcoming TV show titled “The Undateables”, in which they try to hook up various people with disabilities and disfigurements which might have been getting in the way of them getting a date up until then. The advert features six people with different impairments, some of them not noticeable with others more obvious — the one at top right clearly has Osteogenesis Imperfecta or “brittle bone disease” — and the slogan “Love is blind, disfigured, autistic …”. It starts at 9pm on 3rd April. (More: Lisy’s TV Thoughts, Same Difference, Blue Crisps.) […]


Kathryn Brown (@CrystalJigsaw) on 19th March 2012 at 1:54 pm.

I think it’s the title and the billboard that have particularly shocked people because as yet, we don’t truly know the extent of the program itself. If it highlights the difficulties surrounding our special needs society then it could raise some much needed awareness and as the majority of reality programs feature able-bodied and NT people, to have people with extra needs and disabilities is a breath of fresh air.

I won’t be watching it though. The advertising and the title have been very poorly thought out, and it is incredibly ignorant not mention insensitive to think people will be attracted to watch a program about disabled people who are “undateable”. From a personal angle, my daughter is beautiful (I know I’m biased) but this advertising is telling others that because she is disabled, she isn’t dateable – if that’s the right word. It’s very unprofessional and if they were to change the title and remove the degrading advertisements, I think the program might stand somewhat of a chance. I feel very sorry for the people taking part as well. It makes me wonder whether the makers of this program have consulted them on their choice of title and advert, and if so, what the reaction was.

CJ x


freya vinten on 19th March 2012 at 5:09 pm.

Where to start.. are the program makers really stupid enough to believe this won’t just end up as another thing for the morons in society to laugh at??? And why make such a big thing of it? I know plenty of disabled people in loving happy relationships and plenty of “normal” (whatever that is) people who are single n have been for years!! Utterly ridiculous idea by ridiculous people, who seem to think that by making a feature of being different somehow it will encourage inclusion.. thanks, a possibly a new stereotype around disability to deal with.


LaurieMit on 19th March 2012 at 5:37 pm.

Intentions make no difference to me in regards to this “show” and it’s title. The title alone angers me and I agree with those who think that both the title and the billboards will serve to encourage people who already mock, bully, and disrespect others who are different. THE UNDATEABLES? According to…? Who set themselves up as the authority to determine just who is datable and who is UNDATEABLE ? I find the title and current representation of this show very offensive.


beta_dad on 19th March 2012 at 7:10 pm.

I work as a teacher in a mainstream high school. A number of our pupils have ASD and we try very hard to ensure that they are included in everything that the school does, to the extent that new teachers are surprised when told that a pupil has this condition.
There are always challenges, however. Last week, I had to spend a considerable amount of time and effort helping a 12 year old boy who was refusing to come to school because of comments made by others relating to him being ” a social failure”, “sad” “lonely” etc

This kind of advertising is irresponsible and simply cruel. I wonder do any of the people around a boardroom at Channel 4 have any contact with people who have the conditions mentioned?

I hope the program is worthwhile but many fewer people will see it compared to those who will see this.

Shame on you Channel 4.


bluecrisps on 20th March 2012 at 9:32 am.

Thank you for reading and your very valid comments, it really does make you wonder. Shame on you Channel 4 indeed.


thatawkwardkid93 on 21st March 2012 at 6:05 pm.

That is a terrible title for the show. It’s insulting. I may not be dating at the moment or trying to form that kind of relationship, but that does not mean that I’m “undateable.” I will find someone and I will date some day, but not yet. Yes it’s difficult, but that doesn’t justify the title. The title should be more like “Finding The One: In a Different World” or “Dating in the World of Disabilities.”



Sue Marsh on 27th March 2012 at 2:38 pm.

Just seen C4’s response. It’s a bit like Cameron standing up and saying how outraged he is that he was being pimped for 250k – Of course he’s not, no-one believes for a second that he is, but he can use his double speak to excuse the inexcusable.

This programme may be timely, sensitive and important but the minute C4 called it “The Undateables” (Undateables FFS!!) and accompanied it with billboards up and down the country of a “Freak Show Line-Up” they went for the lowest denominator. Millions will see those billboards fleetingly, not watch the programme and perhaps form the view that disfigured or disabled people are “undateable”

C4 know that very well, they went for the shock factor, they went for the viewing figures. At a time when disability hate crime has risen by 70% they should know better.

But no, they respond that we are wrong, they are outraged, that was not their intention… blah blah.

Oh. Well, that’s alright then isn’t it? Do your damage, just like Cameron, then say those damaged by it are just mistaken.


Deb on 27th March 2012 at 4:46 pm.

I have just read channel 4’s response and frankly their resonse is weak.

They state it was not their intention to insult people; if that’s so then they are not in touch with the context of the times we are living in or with the views of the community they purport to represent. It is quite obviously a shock tactic to provoke people to watch. The problem is some people will look at these adverts without going on to watch the programme. What image are those people left with?

It doesn’t how many so-called experts C4 uses or whether the participants are happy with the programme or not, the fact is that those adverts represent the disability community as whole. When I looked at it, I saw my son and daugher being publicly ridiculed and labelled as undateable. Contrary to what channel 4 say, such adverts do contribute to labelling because some people are now going to assume that people with impairments are not dateable. Stigmatising at the very least.

This isn’t just unfair to disabled people but it also does a disservice to all of us when it conveys the message that love and romance only depend on what you look like. What sort of shallow society do we live in. Love very much depends on the person; we don’t need an expert to tell us that.

Its amazing isn’t it, I haven’t even watched the programe, yet from one advert I am able to formulate these thoughts and responses. So just imagine what a bigoted person will think when they glance at those billboads, just think what the potental impact of their thinking will be in a society where there is increasing bullying & harrassment of people with disabilities or other impairments.

If c4 are serious about representing disabled people then they ought to think a bit more carefully about how they advertise such shows without resorting to cheap tactics to get public attention.


N Martell on 27th March 2012 at 11:30 pm.

I have just seen this show reported on the news in Australia and am quite saddened. I would like to think that there are enlightened people in the world who could have their perceptions changed, but in reality as a mum with a recently diagnosed 8 yr old aspie, is this the future for my boy. Will this be how people see him, as an unfortunate to be pitied…….This show hasn’t been made to help anyone, these shows are made for entertainment, if you can call it that!


AutismMumma on 28th March 2012 at 10:24 am.

Thanks v much for reading & commenting, I’m still revolted by it all. Would be interested to know how TV in Australia reported it? Was it sensationalised or sympathetic? Let me know, I’d love it add it to my blog. Thanks x


Gerber Ink on 28th March 2012 at 4:57 pm.

The title seems a lot like the word “untouchable”, which has a similar connotation. I think it could have been called something else altogether, but I agree with what others have said – shock value sells – and obviously they are getting the response they wanted with this program’s title.


@AutismMumma on the subject of allegedly ‘The Undateables’ #stigma « Dawn Willis sharing the News & Views of the Mentally Wealthy on 1st April 2012 at 8:57 am.

[…] This news is worth spreading..StumbleUponDiggRedditTwitterFacebookEmailLinkedInPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]


FREEDOM MAN on 8th January 2013 at 6:00 pm.

I have always found it Difficult to Mix & Match friends with or without slight or serious Disability due to my Learning Disability birth defect under control but still be picked on slagged as UN-DATABLE the way public have become in recent years it is difficult more so like me you don’t drink or go to disco’s due to flashing lights. or Disability Dating finder sound better so is yours Finding the One : in a Differnt World. I enjoyed this 1st programme last year how it helped some achive their hidden goal talents on Un-Datable should be now screen as Disability DATABLE together we can find match Jet2 you soon lol


Karen on 10th January 2013 at 12:56 pm.

Channel 4 were blatantly going for the shock factor – that’s what seems to attract the highest ratings. There were comments I saw on both facebook and twitter from people who were watching and clearly in the same way as people used to go to the “freak show” at the circus 100 years ago, for entertainment and in order to ridicule others.

The programme content was mostly quite sensitive but I still find the idea that someone with Aspergers or Tourettes (and of course they have to further the myth that everyone with Tourettes has verbal swearing tics) is undateable. It is frankly nauseating to perpetuate this idea.

I found myself watching almost against my will, because the participants were so interesting and worthy of love and interest and attention, their conditions and the way they cope showed me the kind of people I would like to call friends rather than the lager-fuelled chavs that inhabit the pubs and clubs so often portrayed as mainstream British night life. Frankly I know who I’d rather have in my social circle.

Maybe enough open-minded people will watch this series to justify the crass title and I certainly hope so, but I still don’t think so. It leaves an uneasy feeling in me.


AutismMumma on 11th January 2013 at 10:35 am.

It does in me too, the twitter feed on the night of the first programme in the first series was very mocking.


Reality TV needs to get real! « Mumma's Musings on 11th January 2013 at 12:46 pm.

[…] title – it reminds me of lepers being described as Untouchables – and blogged about it here. I was pleasantly surprised by the way the young adults were portrayed in a sensitive and […]


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