Married At First Sight’s Shona Manderson is in her ‘divine’ era

Married At First Sight’s Shona Manderson is in her ‘divine’ era

Shona Manderson believes that everything happens for a reason – but by now, you probably already know that.

The performing arts teacher, who starred in Married at First Sight UK, thought the stars had aligned when she was paired up with Brad Skelly, a model who was also open about his spirituality. “I was just like, ‘Whoa’,” says Shona of their first meeting at the altar. “The tattoos, the tan, he’s so tall, he’s so handsome, he is a beautiful, very attractive man […] And then when he smiled at me with these perfect veneers…”

She applied for MAFS after going through a breakup and swearing off Hinge. It’s fair to say she threw herself into the process: “I just envisioned this most beautiful journey. I romanticised it so much. I got myself an engagement ring. I had a little hen party with my friends at home.”

And of their instant, palpable chemistry? She thought, “Oh my God, this is so meant to be…” But when the universe started sending red flags about Brad’s behaviour – which she later describes as “love-bombing” – Shona began to doubt her grip on reality.

Shona and Brad on their wedding day.

Simon Johns / CPL / Channel 4

Throughout the show – which is edited – there were instances of Brad’s behaviour towards Shona that made viewers seriously uncomfortable. Indeed, the charity Women’s Aid released a statement calling out Brad’s use of controlling language – “Not that I’m in a position of authority or to teach her, but if I allow her to get angry, is she ever going to learn?” – towards Shona, noting, “TV programmes like these, which are based on the formation of relationships, need to be aware of the dynamics of controlling and coercive behaviour, and always send a clear message that it is wholly unacceptable.”

Despite feeling hurt by Brad’s words, Shona’s natural instinct was to defend him. “I was so in denial about it because I was so worried about how he was going to come across,” she explains, adding, “When we got sent home, I sat there and I said, ‘He’s not controlling, he’s not, he’s not.’ […] I cried my eyes out because I didn’t want him to be seen that way.”

Brad denies being controlling towards Shona. In a TikTok, he said, “You are all watching a television programme and absolutely everything that I am projecting is from a position of trying to help, rather than to control or dictate, due to being in certain televised experiences before.

“I’ve never had the need or desire to control anybody in my entire life. And I have never once told anybody that they was never allowed to do anything at all, and anybody that knows me personally knows that they have always been completely open to do as they please.”

Brad and Shona during their second commitment ceremony.

CPL / Channel 4

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