It has been one of those weekends where my Facebook newsfeed has just lite up with a wide range of views every since Param Singh went on the Take me Out dating show.
Take Me Out is a dating show presented by Paddy McGuinness. Paddy plays matchmaker to 30 single women all of which are hoping to meet the man of their dreams. Different single men have to try and impress the women as they watch/hear from a prospective male. NB The girls are assembled in a horizonal line/panel stood at podiums with a two option light-up code: Red = reject and White = ‘I’m interested’ and I’m impressed with what I’ve seen/heard. If there are any women left with their lights on at the end of the game the men can then choose which one of them to go out on a date with. Confused? I certainly was by Param’s decision to go on.
The rules, a full list can be found here: For example, the show insists that:
Rule 8: ‘You must be single and aged eighteen or over at the time of the application. You will be asked to provide the Producer with valid and current photographic ID and other documentation in order to substantiate your age (i.e. birth certificate, driving licence and/or valid passport). Rule 9. You must have the right to live and work in the UK and hold a valid passport.’
OK, so these rules suggest you must be an adult, rather than an adult with sound mind! Or, maybe the show is just an arena or facilitator of just good old fashioned fun. It is easy to cringe as right at the beginning of the show 30 girls journey to their podiums two-by-two, holding hands and dancing along a long runaway. Its quite simply a parade of silliness!
On a serious note, I’ve met Param a number of times. He is a genuine guy with a heart of gold and a unique sense of style. His brothers are great too, having developed a set of publications that are inspirational & deeply thoughtful from a spiritual perspective.
Essentially the Param’s result was what is known in the game as a ‘blackout’ - a strange sense of double meaning, i.e: leaving wth no acceptance for a date. Was Param motives to go on the show in search of a good time and the ultimate prize holiday in Fernandos or was it self-promotion? One thing is for sure, he was quick witted and gave as good as he got. During a Q&A in the early stages of selection (some girls had left their lights on), one girl suggested that she didn’t need a handbag when going out as she could store items in Param’s turban. Param responded with, there is more space up here! Again, another double meaning, i.e: There is more brains up here than you my dear!
However, as I mentioned at the start of this post, my personal Facebook timeline saw a mix of emotion. Some people were clearly alarmed and some took it in their stride as a bit of old fashioned jolliness. Unfortunately, my view is that there is already too much jolliness with Sikhs being mocked in Bollywood. At a couple of interesting media outlet’s :Nihal’s show on BBC Network Asia (whatever that means) and the excellent Langar hall (http://thelangarhall.com/general/the-trials-and-tribulations-of-dating-while-sikh/), the debate continues. I also saw an excellent Tweet from Naujawani.com on 8th Jan:
‘It might lack subtlety, but makes up for it with a powerful message: wearing a turban/dastaar comes with responsibility http://bit.ly/U09jN4‘.
Referring to the excellent film by Satwant Singh, an award winner at last years Sikhnet Film festival and also shown during the Mr Singh International event last month! Was that a contradiction?
The issues range from fashion to appropriateness. Yes, it is good to be fashion conscious, if you like that sort of thing (I do and I try! Some may remember my leather trousers and that was pre-Terminator days!). However, does loving fashion show a strange sense of being vain or just wanting to look and feel good. Who are we dressing for anyway? Ourselves, or to attract others. We all know that a large element is the latter as we’re all human. The show raised deeper questions on what women truly desire. The truth is that Sikhs need to behave in public in a respectful way, it is what our crowns are presenting in once sense, i.e: A royalty, heritage and empowered to help others. I believe it is in our psyche.
I’ve been fortunate to have appeared on some main stream TV and recently it has been more of what I call through an ethnic channel. It is not easy. Scripting and control are essential to ensure content of substance that is memorable. On a dating or commercial show you are at the mercy of the editors and producers. They want contention, talk-active and mischievous content. We need to consider if we as Sikhs should rise to their bait.?
The problem is that Sikhs are not part of the mainstream. Newsnight tends to ‘wheels out’ its favourites. TV Researchers use people they can trust and I always cite Jon Snow of Channel 4 news. At a conference on media (including social), he said he had been advised to blog and that you have to look at who the editors are, their background et al. i.e: paraphrasing: We may have brown faces in the front reading the news but the controllers are from a particular part of the community. You can also say that about today’s Tory party with lots of their friends from Eton!
In addition, we see no new presenters emerging. It is the same old bumbling English men/women presenting documentaries, walks & programmes. We need more presenters that reflect society around us. Sikhs have been in the western world since the early 1900s and are hopefully here to stay. Get used to it people!
Today, in a step to create media we’ve lost cite of needing to be part of the media. Unfortunate mistaken identity episodes involving Sikhs is partly down to a lack of education about who we are and the need for many of stories about our self-less nature. I’ll never forget back in 2010, during the Golden Temple Exhibition at the University of London School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS). During a City Sikhs special viewing with I believe Param present together with Gurka Singh from the US, a young lady suggested during a Q&A segment, paraphrasing, ‘Surely cases of mistaken identity would be less if Sikhs were seen to be the humanitarians that they are’. She was right on the mark with that comment. Khalsa Aid and other charities never seem to get a big mention. Therefore, we all have a part to play to make sure their work is seen and heard. This alone would be a strong message to every community about who we are.
Let us return to the main theme of this post. Should a Sikh consider going on this type of dating time show. Firstly, if it is for awareness, then there are definitely better ways of achieving that. If it was for good old fun, is that the same reason why the rest of the participants were there?
Watch below and decide for yourself but I think you may conclude that in hindsight it probably sounded like good idea at the time but it has morphed into strange avenues, i.e: . It has raised a dark debate in terms of looking at ourselves, seeing how people view each other from a first impression perspective and a clue to consider how we are developing as an integrated society rather than sleepwalking into one that is assimilated. If the latter happens then this would mean we have lost ourselves!