MAFS UK: Show's longest-lasting couple from Sheffield describe biggest change with new format
Michelle and Owen tied the knot as strangers on the Channel 4 reality show in 2020 and are now expecting a baby
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Michelle Walder and Owen Jenkins tied the knot as strangers on the Channel 4 reality programme back in March 2020.
Three-and-a-half years later, they remain happily married and are expecting their first baby in December.
Owen, a 35-year-old IT worker, from Sheffield, and Michelle, a teacher from Sussex, aged 29, initially settled together in his home city, where they spent three blissful years, before recently moving down south to be closer to Michelle's family.
Michelle and Owen are one of just three surviving couples from more than 30 to have appeared on MAFS UK over the years, not including this series. Remarkably, one of the other two successful pairings is also from South Yorkshire: Doncaster's Adam Aveling and his wife Tayah Victoria.
Owen applied to MAFS UK after spotting ad while at the pub
Speaking to The Sun, Owen described how he needed some Dutch courage to apply after spotting an advert for the show while he was at the pub, but it turned out to be the best decision he ever made.
The new format is very different to the old one, with many more couples now and much more interaction between the different pairings, including regular dinner parties. But Owen said there's one change which he believes has made the biggest difference.
He explained how when he and Michelle took part in the social experiment, they were legally married, unlike the latest cohort of couples, meaning they had to supply credit checks, sign a prenuptial agreement and write their wills.
Owen told The Sun: "It puts quite a lot of additional pressure on you because if it doesn’t work, you have to go through the process of getting a divorce.
Owen and Michelle explain process on Channel 4 show
"Legally being married solidified the fact that we were together from day one and helped us to get through initial problems and work through things straight away."
Despite the show being very different now, Owen and Michelle have previously told The Star they believe they would have lasted the distance even under the new format because they are meant for one another.
Michelle has told how she was 'petrified' when she moved to Sheffield in August 2020, having only known Owen for four months, but quickly grew to love the city, where she taught at a school in Woodseats and also joined Woodseats Musical Theatre Company.
The couple also explained how the audition process worked after they signed up, saying it involved hours of psychological testing and producers had even asked to speak to Owen's ex-partner.
And they told how on the night of their wedding, they had stayed up talking until 4am, before realising they had to be up in two hours to start filming again.
Another Sheffield groom, Jordan Gayle, is among the participants in the latest series of MAFS UK, on now, and has made a promising start to his relationship with his wife Erica Roberts.
They have already fared better than Sheffield musician Richie Dews, who was matched up with Lara Eyre on the show last year but failed to find a spark with his bride.