The Marriage Ref Review: Wed Off

THE MARRIAGE REF: Saturday 18th June, ITV1, 9pm

It’s an interesting idea, a sort of Jeremy Kyle for normal people, well, I say normal… The Marriage Ref is based on Jerry Seinfeld’s American creation of the same name; to say it wasn’t well received over the pond is putting it lightly.

As you may expect the programme’s format involves the resolution of married couples’ conflicts by a panel of judges, a panel of celebrity judges no less. The opening episode sees the likes of Jimmy Carr, Geri Halliwell and Sarah Millican presiding over the pathetically unimportant ‘conflicts’ of three such couples.

First we have Kieran and Paula; Paula’s perceived problem is her excessive list making. She writes lists every day containing tasks for her Tom-Jones-impersonating – that’s not a description, that’s his ‘job’ – husband to complete. We’re treated to a quick sequence showing the couple at home explaining their issues, which includes plenty of scripted dialogue: “You’re always out playing golf.â€? “It’s networking.â€? “No, it’s not working.â€? *cringe*

Next there’s an affable old couple who have issues with otters and Pickles, then finally Emily and Buddy, or King Bobcat as he now wants to be called. ‘King Bobcat’ refuses to live in the real world; he’s tried his hand at everything from country music to comic book creation, and his latest great idea is turning his Fiat Cinquecento into a monster truck, “what’s safer than a monster truck?â€? he asks his understandably worried looking wife. As said earlier, I mean ‘normal’ in the loosest terms possible.

It’s not all bad though, Jimmy Carr is cutting as ever – thank god they didn’t try scripting him – host, Dermot O’Leary performs amiably as usual and Sarah Millican is unexpectedly funny: when asked, do you collect anything? She replies, “I collect photos of myself looking tiredâ€? and goes on to explain the motivations behind her disturbing habit.

It’s not great, but it’s not terrible, ultimately the success or failure of The Marriage Ref lies with the judging panel, and with Alan Carr and Jonathan Ross confirmed for forthcoming episodes it might just do okay. Oh wait, I almost forgot to mention Geri Halliwell, never mind, she’s not even worth mentioning.