One to watch: The Undateables - Channel 4, 9pm

The Undateables Series 3 - Hayley, Daniel, Ruth, Mary, John and Zoe.
The Undateables Series 3 - Hayley, Daniel, Ruth, Mary, John and Zoe.
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Being a small fish in the huge pool that is the dating game can be stressful enough at the best of times (men are from Mars and all that), but the individuals featured in this series have to contend with extra pressures - they’re disabled.

Yes, one of Channel 4’s most heart-warming shows returns for its third run to follow the lives of more singletons, as they try to make moves in the dating game, all too aware of their learning difficulties.

Yet they have just as much right to love, and be loved, as the rest of us, and thanks to a specialist dating agency, another crop of colourful characters are given the chance to enjoy good company and meet potential partners.

Audiences were a little unsure when trailers for the programme first appeared in 2012, assuming it to be a tasteless effort poking fun at those less fortunate.

But far from exploiting, it combines the on-trend dating show format with the most intriguing of documentaries about disability, and it’s certainly taught us not to make snap judgements.

In this first episode, we meet 44-year-old mature student Mary who has achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism. She lives an action-packed life, and even represented Team GB in the Dwarf Games, winning four gold medals, but any man she meets must meet the approval of her 16-year-old son, who also has dwarfism.

Mary explains: “I just want to find a guy that’s not afraid to walk into a room with me... somebody who loves my every being”.

After two long-term relationships, but never having really been in love, will she find her soulmate in personal trainer Jet, who’s taking her out for an evening of champagne and ice-skating?

Meanwhile, 25-year-old Daniel struggles with communication thanks to his autism, but finds an outlet in his songs - and he’s not shy about romance, having treated a past girlfriend to Valentine’s treats and cuddly toys.

Having been single for two years, he’s now preparing for a date with Hollie - and preparation means practising getting his words in the right order with his mum, as he’s nervous about being able to hold down a conversation with his lady friend.

And 29-year-old nursery nurse Hayley, who has Apert syndrome, a rare genetic condition which is characterised by malformations of the face, has never had a serious relationship, but is hoping that will change after a date with council worker Chris.

All she asks is that she can find someone able to look past her condition and love her for who she is - and she does believe there’s someone out there for everyone, it’s simply a matter of finding them.

Hayley says: “Never judge a book by its cover - this is my cover... the book is inside.

“I just need to find someone that’ll look beyond what they see in front of them”.

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