What connects a ‘throuple’ with an open marriage, Mormons from the Latter-Day Saints Church, a teenage cage fighter, a YouTube family and the landed gentry?
The answer is documentary maker and Strictly Come Dancing champion Stacey Dooley. In her new W series, Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over, the TV presenter is heading into the homes of some of the UK’s more unusual households to shine a light on extraordinary characters, relationships and families.
Tapping into highly controversial subjects around relationships, religion, education, childcare and money, Dooley immersed herself for 72-hours in the loves of some fascinating characters that will raise eyebrows – and possibly leave some jaws on the floor.
"I think we’re very tribal at the minute in the sense that you either vote the same or you don’t, you think the same or you don’t, you’re liberal or you’re Conservative, a Brexiteer or a Remainer," said Dooley.
"We’re putting everyone in these camps and so it’s about putting yourself into a situation where it may not always feel comfortable, but it’s the art of debate that I think we might have lost.
"I think it’s really important to surround yourself with people you don’t understand or agree with all of the time. That’s what this series will do."
Keep reading for Stacey Dooley’s preview of each unusual and eye-opening episode…
Episode 1 - Open Marriage
Stacey visits a very unusual family set-up in the opening episode, spending three days with married couple Thomas and Cathy, their 7-year-old son and their polyamorous love life, which includes an open relationship with Australian housemate Nicole.
"I mean, clearly, I’m not a polyamorist so I can only speculate, but from what I understand they mirror everything you would do in a relationship where there’s only two of you, but there’s obviously three of them," said Dooley.
"Everyone has sex with everyone, everyone texts and calls everyone and you check in with both, or all of your partners and make sure they’re ok.
"So many people, I can imagine, will watch this and just think that they’d be riddled with jealousy or they wouldn’t be able to hack it. It’s going to be great this one."
Episode 2 - The Family Who Live Online
The Saccone Jolys are one of YouTube’s most-watched and successful families and Stacey heads into their home to investigate what it’s really like when the cameras aren’t rolling.
"I think this will be a really great watch for a couple of reasons," said Dooley.
"I think ultimately the main question is that clearly it’s very beneficial financially to be a YouTuber, as you can make loads of money and your kids can be really comfortable, and every parent wants to be able to fund and support their babies. However, it does come at a cost and that cost is their privacy. I think that’s a big sacrifice and the kids are going to be eighteen or twenty years old one day and it might be that they never wanted any of that documented.
"It’s really interesting territory and I think it’ll make for great conversation."
Episode 3 - The Family Without Rules
Stacey has found a family in Brighton where the three children – Ulysses, Ostara and Kai – are in charge.
They co-sleep with their parents, do not attend mainstream school, decide what they eat and when they eat, have no fixed bedtime and the parents are against mainstream medication.
"Obviously many of us go to school and it’s all very traditional and predictable," said Dooley.
"I accept that sometimes school doesn’t work for certain kids and they end up getting home-schooled, but that still means that they follow a curriculum, so they’re still learning. But the kids in the family I stay with are unschooled, so they aren’t following a curriculum.
"Instead the parents take the lead, so when the kids say they want to learn about something, that’s when they have the conversation. To me, that feels pretty mad.
"I do admire the fact that they are so willing to go against the grain and stand for what they think is right because I can imagine that’s not always easy and probably a lot of people sit and judge you.
"Maybe I’m doing that a little bit here, but I think you’ve always got to do what you believe is right and they’re clearly doing that.
"They’ll be doing this because it’s what they believe is best for their children, so I would say they are prioritising their kids and I suppose that’s what every decent parent ought to do."
Episode 4 – Mormons
“Well I definitely had to be on my best behaviour!” joked Dooley, speaking about what it like moving in with. some Mormons who belong to the Latter-Day Saints Church.
“Swearing is a massive no no for Mormons, and my mouth is like a sewer, so I had to be mindful of that.
“They don’t drink tea, or any hot caffeine and I go through ten cups a day! It was like rehab for me. The main thing I wanted from this weekend was to hear where they’re coming from and to understand what the religion gives them.
“People take so much comfort from believing that there’s this guy, this higher being,that has their back and loves them unconditionally. I don’t believe that, so I imagine that’s a lovely feeling.”
Episode 5 – Cage Fighting Teen
“I follow cage fighting, I recognise it as a sport, I admire the stars with the dedication they put in, but I can understand people not getting on board with kids fighting,” said the TV presenter, who moves in with a young cage fighter and his family.
“I completely hear that, and it is food for thought. I don’t know what age is too young, but then if you want to be the Venus Williams or the Anthony Joshua of your world, you have to start young and you have to sacrifice almost everything and it’s all or nothing, you’re in or out. That’s how you become great.
“I accept that fourteen is very young. At fourteen are you old enough to decide whether or not you want to go into a cage and potentially get your head kicked in? Some people think yes, some people think absolutely not. Some people will think that the parents are really irresponsible, some will think that the parents are very admirable because they’re trying everything to make sure that this lad doesn’t go off the rails.
“The great thing about this series is it gives you the time to sit down with them at dinner or over breakfast and talk about everything.”
Episode 6 – Landed Gentry
In the final episode of the series, Stacey Dooley moves in with the Arkwrights and gets a taste of what it’s like to live a life of privilege.
"The house is enormous, there are so many bedrooms, acres and acres and acres of land," said Dooley.
"Naturally, the way that they pass the time and the things that they’re involved in are a million miles away from what I’m used to doing. It was a really great weekend because we talked about subjects that I feel quite passionately about, for example privilege generally speaking, private education, the responsibility to recognise the position that you’re in.
"They also used to fox hunt, so another very emotive topic and the mum is a bit of a character as well!"
Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over starts on Wednesday, September 4th at 10pm on W – BT TV channel 311/383 HD.