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George Roberts-Should we pre-screen reality TV contestants?

George Roberts-Should we pre-screen reality TV contestants?

Sunday 30th October 2022

George Roberts, a contestant on Married at First Sight UK was arrested on Thursday 26th September 2022, following a complaint of coercive and controlling behaviour. The investigation into the 40-year-old financial advisor was initiated after three of his ex-partners were left horrified at seeing him on the season trailer for the popular E4 spin off of the American and Australian shows by the same name.

A spokesperson for Met Police stated: "A 40-year-old man was arrested by Met officers in Worcestershire on Thursday, 29 September on suspicion of controlling and coercive behaviour", adding further "He was taken to a Worcestershire police station and subsequently bailed to return pending further enquiries."

What is Married at First Sight UK?

Married at First Sight UK (MAFS') allows two singletons to marry after being matched by the makers of the show. The show's producers will look at the contestant's lifestyle, interests, what they are looking for and what the show thinks they need in their romantic lives. The strangers meet for the first time when they tie the knot. After the honeymoon, they move in together and start their married life. They must remain married for 8 weeks and then on "decision day" they can decide to remain together or divorce. Surprisingly, there is no cash prize, the reward is the gift of love and finding your perfect partner. Crazy to some but believe it or not 50% of the couples featured in the show are still happily married.

Why do fans believe should George Roberts be removed the show?

Reports revealed that three women approached the police independently, followed by contacting MAFS' producers to advise of the impending investigation, they disclosed that they had filed a complaint of controlling behaviour, harassment, and emotional and mental abuse. The women claimed that to start with George had been the perfect gentleman, showering them with gifts and affection. Once settled into the relationship, they claim his behaviour changed and he became controlling and intimidating. They warned that featuring him on the show and allowing him to marry someone that could be subjected to the same abuse, would be negligent and irresponsible. According to the complainants, the show ignored their warnings and George was still able to participate, and married ex Ms Great Britain, April Banbury.

After the story was published by the media, fans were shocked to see the couple united during the show's reunion. However, this relationship has reportedly broken down due to the pressure of the allegations and media frenzy, resulting in the two going their separate ways. Newly single Banbury disclosed to fans: "The traumas that have been brought on from this show have made me re-evaluate things. I really have and I'm not ashamed to admit, I have been seeing a therapist ever since."

What has been the reaction?

A source revealed the same accusations, and subsequent media headlines had caused a "major headache" for Channel 4. However, their decision to continue with Roberts, despite his arrest for abusive behaviour angered fans of the popular TV show. The networks defended this by claiming information had only come to light after all of the shows had been recorded. The show had not aired at the time of the police involvement and this announcement caused fans to take to Twitter in droves to protest.

"This is absolutely disgusting that Channel 4 continue to show episodes of Married at First Sight with George Roberts after he has been arrested for abuse,"

"George is deep in the [bleep]! Been arrested on charges of coercive control at the weekend! Should never been allowed on the programme!"

"Married at First Sight George Roberts has been arrested - but Channel 4 are continuing to show him on TV,"and "Channel 4 should have scrapped the remaining episodes,".

Channel 4 stated they were completely unaware of the claims against Roberts and the situation had been discussed for some time, but now the police were involved they assumed that the producers would either pull it off air, or at the very least edit the content. This hasn't happened.

In response to the investigation, MAFS' producers responded saying they run rigorous background and physiological checks on any potential contestants, and any person with claims such as these against them would be taken very seriously. They also disclosed that within the shows legal limitations they perform police checks to ensure all participants do not have any record for any kind of abuse or behaviour that could put their respective partner at risk in any way.

A spokesperson for the reality star confirmed that he irrefutably denies the allegations made against him. He added that he does not condone any kind of abuse, and as a father of four daughters, he found the claims deeply upsetting as they were simply untrue, and it was not in his nature to behave in such a way.

On Saturday 22nd October, Roberts broke his silence following the allegations and thanked his fans for their support quoting suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst which read: "Justice and judgement lie often a world apart." The former Malvern Rugby Club player  added]* "Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the messages of support. I appreciate you ALL. #BEKIND"

Married at First Sight UK, love Island, first dates or Ex on the Beach are just some of the productions that people compete in to find their "happily ever after" and all of these shows have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their participants. At Lie Detector Services LTD, we believe shows such as these could introduce lie detector tests as a pre-screening method, similar to those used in pre-employment screening. This would provide an extra security measure to be considered in the selection process. Anyone who refuses this type of request would clearly have something to hide, as do most people who refuse to take a lie detector test for any reason.

If any companies, reality show producers or networks would like to discuss how we could help to implement a pre-screening lie detector test for staff, cast or crew, please contact us on 0800 774 7268, or visit us online and send us a message. We all have a duty of care to those we work with or employ, and our service can provide you with an extra reassurance that you have chosen the right person for the job, or show.