Online dating is widespread and very much taken for granted in Britain today, with an entire range of online facilities, from popular dating websites like Match.Com or eHarmony, to more sophisticated set-ups like Guardian Soulmates or the more adventurous online destinations like Gaydar.
So we were delighted to discover a much simpler and slower-paced world of dating, albeit a little stiff upper lip, and that’s the Marriage Bureau, a 1940s dating agency that Pathé News made a little film about. Their mission statement is “To introduce to each other people who normally meet very few members of the opposite sex”.
I think you’d agree – not the catchiest jingle, and already flawed on several levels, but still, let’s press on … we’re enticed by the Marriage Bureau’s charm…
In case you were expecting a line-up of men in briefs, rest unassured that the Marriage Bureau can offer any such thing: “You can’t walk in and pick yourself a man just like that. First the whole issue has to be discussed. There’s a long form to fill in” The clips follows a woman and a man who sign-up in the Marriage Bureau’s office and then meet each other rather awkwardly in the park. The narrator is quite an unusual British Pathé voice over artist, who gets quite carried away by the various dramatic perspectives, it’s nail-biting stuff.
We’d love to know which London dating agency this was, where exactly they were based, and possibly discover the names of these people. We wonder too how the end of the War was connected to the birth of the dating agency industry, with all those torn apart couples and fractured social groups.
We’ll keep you updated if we learn more. In the meantime, for any archive film enthusiasts who are single and looking for love might, may we suggest ‘The British Pathe Film Archive’ group on Facebook, there are reels of fascinating people in there, you may well meet the perfect partner!