Bringing astrology to the TV dating space
‘Twas the week before Christmas, and under a full moon in Gemini and with Venus in retrograde, we pitched our astrological dating idea to a panel of commissioners.
Over the previous year, my co-creative director, Lucy Golding, and I had watched the modern astrology movement steadily advancing, infiltrating our Insta feeds and favourite lifestyle brands with Scorpio memes and moon motifs. But it was when the dating apps started introducing star sign filters that we knew the time had come to bring astrology to the TV dating space.
So we put on our zodiac necklaces, stuck some lucky citrine crystals in our bras, and pitched our Aries and Leo hearts out. And when discovery+ gave us the greenlight to produce the UK’s first astrology dating show, we knew it wasn’t just a stroke of luck – but Written in the Stars.
The first thing we did - after buying each other star-themed notepads - was secure our dream team of astrologers. And it wasn’t the usual negotiation with expert talent about costs and timescales. They just wanted to know our times of birth, as the placement of planets in our birth charts would determine if we could work together. Thankfully the stars aligned, we were declared a fruitful match, and this sassy, intuitive, knowledgeable trio became our secret ingredient.
Before we knew it, Lucy and I, now joined by fellow executive producer (and Taurus) Denis O’Connor, were in Greece – the birthplace of astrology – on a recce to find the perfect setting to create love matches under the stars. No one could have predicted (or could they?) that the Peloponnese would be experiencing freakishly low temperatures in March and our off-season hotel would have no heating, meaning we’d be sleeping in all our clothes, including jeans and coats. This did not bode well. But happily, the next day we found our dream location – a mysterious manor house, carved into the edge of the Earth, complete with colonnades, wooded groves, lavender gardens, a private beach and an endless sea view. If you can’t fall in love here, there must be something wrong with you (unless you have opposing moons, of course).
When we returned to the location in June we brought with us 100 crew, our three astrologers, one brilliant host (Gemini Clara Amfo) and a cast made up of 12 different star signs all looking for lasting love. Now the house looked very different: rigged with cameras, bedecked in fairy lights and with zodiac-themed artwork above the beds to show the newly matched couples where they’d be sleeping. The stage was set, ready for love. The question was: how long would it take them to push their beds together?
Under the blazing sun and clear, starlit skies, we grappled with all the teething problems of a brand new reality dating format, balancing the usual fun, drama and intrigue with teaching the cast their birth chart basics: the sun/star sign (your identity/ego), the moon (your true emotional heart), rising (how you present to the world), and of course, Mars and Venus (how you give and receive love).
But, as our astrologers would say, cynics are welcome here and you definitely don’t need to know anything about astrology to enjoy the series. Essentially, this is a show about relationships and how we fall in love, from the initial spark through to ultimately making an authentic commitment, with a whole heap of relatable hurdles in between (who hasn’t created a fictional narrative in their head and nearly sabotaged a new relationship?).
We set out to answer the question: when it comes to finding love, can astrology succeed where all else has failed? Of course, we don’t want to give any spoilers, but our astrologers would say that it can be a useful gateway into understanding yourself better and that just knowing your traits and tendencies, and those of your partner, can help you navigate all those early relationship issues of trust, intimacy, jealousy and compromise.
The last show we made was described by one critic as something they’d never seen before on TV: a reality show with heart. We really hope we’ve managed to deliver that again - we have our Cancer and Libra moons to thank for that of course.