Itâs an interesting idea, a sort of Jeremy Kyle for normal people, well, I say normalâ¦ The Marriage Ref is based on Jerry Seinfeldâs American creation of the same name; to say it wasnât well received over the pond is putting it lightly.
As you may expect the programmeâs format involves the resolution of married couplesâ 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 âconflictsâ of three such couples.
First we have Kieran and Paula; Paulaâs perceived problem is her excessive list making. She writes lists every day containing tasks for her Tom-Jones-impersonating â thatâs not a description, thatâs his âjobâ â husband to complete. Weâre treated to a quick sequence showing the couple at home explaining their issues, which includes plenty of scripted dialogue: âYouâre always out playing golf.â? âItâs networking.â? âNo, itâs not working.â? *cringe*
Next thereâs 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. âKing Bobcatâ refuses to live in the real world; heâs 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, âwhatâs safer than a monster truck?â? he asks his understandably worried looking wife. As said earlier, I mean ânormalâ in the loosest terms possible.
Itâs not all bad though, Jimmy Carr is cutting as ever â thank god they didnât try scripting him â host, Dermot O’Leary performs amiably as usual and Sarah Millican is unexpectedly funny: when asked, do you collect anything? She replies, âI collect photos of myself looking tiredâ? and goes on to explain the motivations behind her disturbing habit.
Itâs not great, but itâs 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, sheâs not even worth mentioning.