If you’re looking for a show with Love Island-type twists and Temptation Island-type trysts, you need to take a trip to Singletown
Monday 2 September, 9pm, ITV2/HD (CH 115/176), then every day at 9pm until Monday 16 September. Also available for 7 days in Catch Up > Channels > ITV Hub
Emily Atack is late to celebrate her sister’s birthday. As we’re her last interview of the day, we expect it to be a quick chat. But Emily doesn’t seem to be in any hurry and is warm and friendly from the outset. She even compliments our outfit as we walk through the door. (“That is the best outfit, like, ever!” she gushes.)
It’s obvious why she’s the perfect match as co-host/mentor/all-round matchmaker for new dating series Singletown. “I like to be everyone’s friend and I like people to feel comfortable in my presence no matter what,” she says. “I could be lying there in the doctor's with my legs in the air and be cracking jokes. If anything, it makes them feel uncomfortable, but I like breaking the ice… I like people to feel like they’re getting to know me, and I’m not in any way guarded.” It’s certainly working today…
Singletown takes place over two weeks, on consecutive nights, as five couples put their long-term relationships to the ultimate test by breaking up, with no guarantee of making up. Will they return from their two-week nightlife bender in London happier, more fulfilled and ready to settle down? Or will they decide that single life is more their speed?
Emily and comedian Joel Dommett are there to guide them on their journey. It’s Emily’s first hosting gig, but she’s already cemented herself in the nation’s hearts following appearances on other reality shows, including series 5 of Dancing On Ice and last year’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, where she came second.
“Hey Joel, I think it sends the wrong message if we take our Bumble photos together.”
The Singletown participants, who range in age from 18 to 29 and are in relationships (from two and a half years all the way up to seven years), are about to live their best single life in London. As they go on dates with new people, they’re forbidden from communicating with their now exes, even though they are housed just a stone’s throw away from one another.
One half of each of the five couples are housed in “Riverside”, while the other half are in “Cityside”. The only time the groups are able to communicate is at the weekly “love locket” ceremony, where the long-time flames can decide to re-couple and leave the show together… or not.
“The first thing people do with a dating show is compare it to Love Island,” Emily says. She’s a fan of the show herself, but believes Singletown’s USP is the couples and the emotion they bring to it. “Break-ups are so hard and you’re essentially watching people break up and how they deal with it. Joel and I are trying to restore people’s confidence again.”
Sophie, 18, and George, 21, from Birmingham have been together for three years and “want to see what life is like without each other”.
That’s no easy task, especially when the apartments are decorated with blown-up photos of the flatmates’ partners’ faces. So much for out of sight, out of mind… “It’s like an analogy for the fact that in life when you break up with someone, they’re still always there,” Emily explains. “No one said it was going to be easy.”
She speaks from experience – and has made a career out of commenting on navigating life in your twenties. Her tour website describes the 29-year-old’s debut comedy show Talk Thirty To Me as “unravelling today’s anxiety-inducing world of scrolling through social media, swiping right… and the never-ending search for “the one””, topics that were also centre stage in her TV series, Emily Atack: Adulting.
Sipping tea out of an “Adulting” mug does not an adult make – if only it were that simple...
We’re aware that Emily’s sister is probably waiting for her in some swanky location, doing some clock-watching of her own, but we press on… So what would she tell her younger self? ““You are so brilliant.” It sounds so weird saying it about yourself. I would let myself know what I’m worth and I would say “you’re a good, kind person and you deserve the best. Don’t let these t**ts think that they can treat you in a certain way”.”
As our time together ends, we go to shake her hand, but she goes in for a hug instead before dashing off to catch her cab. Warm, funny and unapologetically herself, Emily has gone from starring as the nation’s collective crush in The Inbetweeners to becoming the nation’s new BFF – serving up no-nonsense chat and her honest opinion. Oh, and if Emily’s sister is reading this, we’re sorry she was so late…
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