GOGGLEBOX – it’s one of the best things on telly. But have you ever wondered what the stars of the hit Channel 4 show are actually thinking when they’re making quips about our favourite things on the box?
From Giles and Mary to sisters Izzi and Ellie, now body language expert Judi James shares which stars are brimming over with empathy and what power dynamics are at play
Giles and Mary
This has to be the most complex relationship on TV and also one of the most entertaining.
Giles and Mary’s quirky marriage is the perfect antidote to all those idealised relationship ‘fits’ we see on reality shows on Love Island and First Date.
No-one could imagine Mary ever describing Giles as her ‘type on paper’.
Married 30 years, they sit in separate chairs on the show with a table between them and their body language is rarely if ever mirrored.
Giles usually sits leaning in slightly towards his wife, with his legs crossed in her direction but she will often be leaning on the far arm of her chair, away from him.
They can talk as though they’re on the brink of a row, but there’s a lot about their body language that suggests it’s quietly complimentary, with Giles playing the naughty, irritating and naïve child while Mary is the eternally annoyed parent at the end of her tether.
Their body language rituals move in a spiral.
Giles takes control by doing something attention-seeking and annoying, like whistling or playing a prank.
Mary’s response is always facial winces of irritation and hand signals of rejection as she leans away in anger, although Giles’s reward is that she also uses eye contact at this point, which is where we can see him begin to grin in delight at having caught her full attention at last.
He will continue to do what it is that annoys Mary despite her threats, but often the end result is that she begins to smile and laugh at him.
Mary is clearly the adult or even ‘parent’ in this relationship but Giles’s body language suggests he loves the fun of her telling-offs as much as their shared laughter.
Mica and Marcus
The body language of this glamorous couple seems to have changed since they first appeared on the show.
At the beginning it often looked prickly and at times borderline confrontational, with Marcus making comments and Mica responding with expressions of disapproval, but recently there has been a lot more flirting and signals of mutual appreciation and respect.
Marcus always stretches out in front of the screen like the dominant alpha but the power balance is now pretty even, with Mica sitting upright behind him, looking equally in charge.
The couple now use extended bouts of eye contact to suggest they are closely tuned in and this makes them able to share jokes and thoughts more frequently.
When Marcus does his sexy pelvic gyrations there is no eye-rolling from Mica, just some face-softened smiles of attraction and appreciation.
They tend to join in rituals like this now and even high-five at the end to show strong levels of rapport.
Ellie and Izzi
I think all women would love to have a sister like this.
Ellie and Izzi might sit stretched out on one sofa each like two very dominant Queen Bees as they let rip with their comments and opinions, but their body language as they speak shows they are so tuned in and like-minded that it is crazy.
Ellie and Izzi often speak the same words at the same time or finish each other’s sentences.
They get the same jokes and they share a love of food, shopping and TV shows.
They both seem to have thick skins in terms of confidence and the ability to laugh at themselves and this makes them a formidable banter-based double-act.
Their body language often makes them look like twins, with lots of mirroring to show high levels of rapport and understanding and when they do use different body language it shows complimentary states.
They’ve never once fallen out properly on screen but if they did ever fall out in real life I’d imagine the result would be nuclear (but also short-lived as it’s impossible to imagine one living happily without the other on tap as support and back-up).
Sophie and Pete
This is the other sibling relationship we’d all love to have, with Sophie and Pete showing equal amounts of love, support, protection and cheeky banter and with each seeming to bring the best out in the other, like all good double-acts.
When they stare at the screen rather than one another their facial expressions tend to be mirrored and their responses to the shows they’re watching are identical, suggesting high levels of empathy and like-minded thinking.
Pete loves to make Sophie laugh and visa-versa. When they crack a joke they’ll often throw a quick glance at the other’s face to evaluate their response and tell whether to pick up on a punchline or drop a subject.
Sitting at right angles they tend to lean in towards one another, showing high levels of trust between them.
Pete is the older brother but he plays the fool enough for Sophie to feel like the big sister to him at times, rather than pulling rank.
They laugh together at the funny shows but also cry together when they watch something sad.
They might tease and poke fun at each other but they are so well tuned in that there have never been signs of being hurtful or taking a joke too far.
There’s been some social distancing between these three thanks to Covid but at all times they have looked like a loving, affectionate and very warm and protective family unit where the dad might get some gentle leg-pulling but is ultimately treated with respect.
All three sit splayed out on their sofas or seats and much of their conversation involves eyes aimed at the TV rather than one another, although at moments of affection or shared humor they do all use more extensive bouts of eye-gazing to share a joke.
With some of the poses they adopt you can almost imagine the two adult sons as small schoolboys with their dad, although when they speak the matching intellect and knowledge does come across.
Like all affectionate children the two boys will poke gentle fun at their dad at times but it’s interesting watching them carefully restore the power dynamic too, showing it’s their lovely father who is ultimately still in charge.
This family’s body language looks so traditional, with mum and dad down either ends of the sofas, sitting with their brood of adult children, huge dogs and plates of French fancies between them like birds protecting their nest.
It’s the mother and father that do most of the speaking, while the kids react.
In terms of the dynamics it’s a rather old-fashioned double act where the mother makes comments and the father rolls his eyes or looks bewildered by what she says.
There’s very little direct interaction between the mother and the father but the affection and protection seems to be passed back and forth down the line via osmosis, as does the chain of power and command.
Perhaps the most emotional moments come when something on the TV has made the mother cry.
Her husband often pretends to ignore her but the distress and anxiety signals from the children show how strong the real bonds of emotion are between this tight family group.
Jenny and Lee
Their behaviours, roles and timing make Jenny and Lee a perfect comedy double act, with Jenny often playing the funny guy while Lee sits gurning, dead-panning or even corpsing beside her as she chats on, apparently oblivious to the double-entendres or naïve comments she’s just made.
This always looks like a really strong-bonded friendship that has to have lasted for many years.
They sit so close together and share so much (and reveal so much) that the relationship looks intimate and trusting.
Their banter is relentless and the whole relationship looks based on mock-fighting.
The affection is obvious but in terms of their body language they are the Ant and Dec or Morecambe and Wise of Gogglebox, i.e. two very different characters who use very different body language to create and deliver their jokes.
You can even see Jenny lift her glasses up and down like Eric Morecambe to silently announce to Lee to prepare for a one-liner.
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