Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Faking It: Couples Get Their Act Together on the Ultimate Make-Over Show

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Faking It: Couples Get Their Act Together on the Ultimate Make-Over Show

Article excerpt

Sex Inspectors (Channel 4)

Until this week, I knew nothing about a young woman called Charlotte Ross. I now know everything: that she began masturbating when she was eight, that she prefers to touch her genitalia through silk, and that she and her boyfriend have sex four or fives times a week (she prefers evenings). Despite this impressive statistic, in her first 18 months with her boyfriend, she never experienced orgasm through penetration. She faked it every time.

Charlotte is not a fictional character. She does not work in the sex industry. She's not Californian or anything. She is a 30-year-old mother who looks after her young daughter full-time at her home in Essex. Her partner, James Gold, is 29, runs a building firm and is strict about his sexual preference: the morning not the evening. He was pretty damn miffed when Charlotte told him the awful truth. "I think," she recalled, "he must have made a comment like 'How many times did I make you come last night?' and I just said 'You didn't because you never do'." As with Boris and Michael, it wasn't the sex, it was the lies that hurt.

Their sexual problems, such as they were, are not unusual, apparently: 92 per cent of women have faked an orgasm and 70 per cent do not get one through penetrative sex. What is unusual, if not a bit kinky, is that Jamie and Charlotte volunteered to have their problematic sex life filmed for Sex Inspectors (Tuesdays, 11.05pm). I am still racking my brains as to why. Discretion was not the better part of this programme's valour. Jamie and Charlotte's congress would sometimes be shown with pseudo-scientific discretion by a heat-sensor lens, but the bedcam's pictures soon flicked to CCTV-quality images. When, in triumph towards the end of the programme, Charlotte finally came, her gurgled screams put the nation's best home cinema systems through their paces.

Since they are neither too stupid nor too poor to have considered private sex therapy, my only explanation is that they watch far too much TV and have become fans of the kinds of programme we critics generally ignore. Charlotte will have seen Tracey Cox, one of the programme's inspectors, on Would Like to Meet, the BBC2 show that advised the dateless. She will have admired her tough-love Australian candour. Faced with her own little problem, no one else's advice would do. In any case, everyone in Essex wants to be on a make-over show, and this offering--dreamed up by Daisy Goodwin, who brought us How Clean is Your House?--is the make-over show to end make-over shows. (I am either right about this or Cox's advice that during sex Charlotte should "empty her head" was redundant.)


Cox, a British-born former editor of Australian Cosmopolitan, is 43, presentable but experienced, a believer that everything is fixable. …

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