Arranged marriages, sex in boxes and fried chicken: 9 of the wackiest Channel 4 formats

Married at First Sight is at the end of a long list of groundbreaking shows Channel 4 has transmitted into our living rooms

Channel 4 are embarking on a social experiment to see if love really can come after marriage.


Their new “groundbreaking” concept will see three couples, who have been matched using a series of scientific and social criteria, walk down the aisle. And then get to know each other. 

That’s right, the broadcaster is arranging three marriages between people who have never met before to see if the act of marriage will help create a bond leading to true love. After six weeks of married life, the couples will decide if they want to stay together as husband and wife. 

Sounds strange, right? Well, it’s not the first time Channel 4 has embraced a wacky format. Here are a few of the most weird and wonderful…

First Dates

Married at First Sight isn’t the first time Channel 4 has delved into the land of love. Far from it. First Dates, which returned for a second series this year, sees singles embark on blind dates while being filmed. The prospective partners share a meal (and loads of awkward pauses) before speaking to camera to decide if they want to see their match for a second date. As if first dates weren’t hard enough… 

Live From Space

Earlier this year Channel 4 went where no TV broadcaster had gone before. That’s right, into SPACE. C4 aired a season of shows presented by Dermot O’Leary, live from Earth and the International Space Station. One of the episodes even let viewers watch a live 90-minute orbit of the planet. Now if that’s not mind blowing, we don’t know what is. 

The Jump

Novice celebrities taking part in snow sports, sometimes live on telly. “Surely this is a recipe for disaster or at least hugely dangerous for the show’s eager contestants,” we cried. And our fears were founded. Two celebs dropped out before the show even started and of the 12 stars who were there at the start of the live shows, four withdrew after suffering injuries. The eventual winner was backup contestant Joe McElderry, who was drafted in half way through to replace injured Henry Conway. All in the name of entertaining the nation, eh? 


Who knew watching people watching TV could be so entertaining? We weren’t convinced when Channel 4 first announced plans to plant cameras in the nation’s living rooms, but what sounded like an ob-doc too far turned out to be one of the nation’s favourite formats. In fact, people love it so much it’s even been nominated for the Radio Times Audience Award at this year’s Bafta ceremony.

Sex Box

You can’t accuse Channel 4 of being afraid of controversy… Last year’s Sex Box saw real-life couples go into an opaque (and luckily soundproof) box and have sex on TV before popping their clothes back on and heading out in front of a live studio audience to discuss the experience with a panel of experts. The idea of the show was to have an open and grown up discussion about sex, though even the experts couldn’t help having a bit of a giggle. 

One Born Every Minute

From sex to childbirth – and another of Channel 4’s runaway successes. Now on its fifth series, One Born Every Minute sets up cameras in maternity hospitals to record the miracle of birth – blood, sweat, tears and all. The format doesn’t shy away from anything, be it labouring mothers, worried dads or midwives having a natter over a cup of tea. And the show is surprisingly affecting. We challenge you to sit through the hour without your bottom lip wobbling. 

Big Brother 

It might be on Channel 5 now, but Big Brother first opened its unblinking eye on Channel 4 in 2000. As the years have passed the contestants themselves have got weirder and wackier, but back then the “social experiment” itself was enough to grab people’s attention. Loosely inspired by George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, Channel 4 sent ten contestants into a custom built house for 64 days and let them battle it out to avoid eviction. 

Fried Chicken Shop 

It doesn’t seem like the most obvious of filming locations, but Channel 4 decided the place to get a real insight into the life of Brits was to capture them hanging out in a bustling South London chicken shop. And how right they were. The unlikely hit shines a surprisingly entertaining light on the greasy goings on, from the staff who serve up the chicken to the customers who come in to buy it. 

Embarrassing Bodies 

Now if you want putting off your dinner, this is the Channel 4 show for you. Embarrassing Bodies lets people who suffer from an ailment so embarrassing that they don’t want to go to the doctors go on telly and show it to the nation instead. (The show also raises awareness about conditions and aims to help viewers self-diagnose at home.) For some unknown reason you lot have been tuning into the Bafta-winning medical show for six whole series, as well as a number of spin off specials. Please, just go to the doctor’s, people. 

Sorry, you’re not getting a clip for this one.