Thrupiece Television's Channel 4 - a station not unfamiliar with controversy nor immune to pro-actively courting public disapproval - is no stranger to the interventions of the Dorset Broadcasting Standards' Authority which has been asked yet again to step in to adjudicate on the channel's decision to air a particularly distasteful episode of its meretricious and deeply exploitative series: Naked Subtraction*. The programme which first aired in 2016 and is presented by self-declared onanist and organ tuner Anna Ryder-Richboneson has often found itself in hot water but never more so than last night, following its decision to make its 200th episode an aged 85 and over special edition.
* the name, which is by some distance the cleverest part of the programme, refers both to the nature of the mathematical problems contestants have to solve [typically 10-6 = ?] and to the progressive reduction in the number of naked contestants from which the chooser must make his or her selection.
A thinly disguised dating/soft-porn vehicle, the programme's avowed aim is to match contestants, not through compatibility or common interest, but through a combination of simple mathematics and priapic hormone-led instinct. In it, a fully clothed person [or "self-advertising pervert"] is invited to solve a few simple arithmetical problems in order to win "rewards" which they can then cash in to progressively reveal the hidden torsos of six naked people [or "shameless exhibitionists looking for a break in television"]. These - generally hideous and deeply unappealing - specimens are initially hidden in booths, but alas not for long. As the "chooser" solves progressively harder problems [peaking in eg 10-2-1-3= ?], the bodies and faces of those in the booths are gradually revealed from the feet up. In each round, the chooser eliminates one naked person until only two are left, when the chooser then takes off his or her clothes [thereby revealing that the other contestants were, by comparison, paragons of shapely beauty] and, having tossed [a coin] makes a final choice. The chooser and the chosen are then treated to a slap-up dinner at the Taj Mahal-McKnightly Curry House Restaurant and Indian Take-Away, Tarrant Gunville [just off the A354; open Mon-Sat 12-3pm and 6-10.30pm; last orders 10pm].
Distasteful as the programme is even when featuring men and women of an age at which nakedness is not intrinsically unattractive, last night's offering sunk to an unprecedented low [literally] when one of the partitions had opened a mere 11 inches, the intention being, at that point, to reveal only the ankles, calves and knees of Mrs Eddie Bavistocke, a former barmaid from Corfe Mullen. Instead, the combined effect of a lifetime working with manual beer engines and 85 years of gravitational pull on her "upper torso" meant that the barely risen partition revealed instead two dangling appendages which programme-makers insisted they would not normally expect to become visible until at least Round Three.
An unrepentant Mrs Bavistocke - who was eliminated in Round 4 - declared herself well-satisfied with her first [and it is to be hoped last] television appearance, telling journalists that the "exposure" had done wonders for her Facebook profile and had increased her Twitter following by 600%. "You'd be surprised how many men of a certain age prefer the more mature look and since many of them suffer from appalling posture what I have to offer falls well within their eye-line. You'd be amazed how popular I am at our over 80s line-dancing sessions, though limbo dancing's been off the menu for a good while ever since I trod on one of them attempting an ambitious 32" bar".