Channel 4’s latest entry into the matchmaking game, The language of love, has all the latest decorations, including a Spanish villa, a pool that one can pose around in thin bathing suits and the required choice of a partner to experiment with. In contrast to Love Island, however, there is no cash prize and the time frame is a manageable fourteen days instead of a life-sucking two months.
The gimmick here is that the boys and girls – six British and six Spanish – do not speak each other’s languages. As a presenter Davina McCall says it: “Can physical chemistry overcome the language barrier?”
For Akonne, an MMA fighter from Birmingham, and Kimy, a medical student from Tenerife, the mutual attraction required no dictionary, Kimy ran her hands over Akonne’s sixpack within seconds of the meeting. Luke from Essex (“my chat can win any girl over”) felt an understandable inconvenience, while Geordie Arran wondered if having three children at the age of 26 could expose the “sexy señoritas”.
Relationships looked more problematic for the three British women, especially for Tracey, who was visibly annoyed that her dream ‘señor’ seemed to prefer single mother Thalia.
Perhaps even more tricky to navigate were the cultural differences: Cristobal from Cádiz misled Serenade Thalia, who remarked: “We are more used to guys singing”Wonderwall ‘ in a bar at Meanwhile, the Spanish men seemed understandably confused about a British will to haggle in public.
Anyone who has experienced a holiday romance or friendship will recognize the stylized conversation and misunderstandings and Davina’s co-host, a Spanish TV personality called Ricky Merino, was ready with translations – but the language barrier industry was news that quickly felt meaningless.
A final credit snippet from the second episode hinted at the kind of drama that experts in dating shows seem to require, but so far the show is as deep as a two-week sunburn.