Based on an American format created by Jerry Seinfeld, the show features real-life couples who are very much in love, but have something quirky and ridiculous that they argue about. It is up to O'Leary and the panel of celebrities and comics to decide who's right and wrong in each domestic dispute - the husband or the wife.
Producers say: "No tiff is too absurd for the show - from a couple who bicker about the husband's desire to stuff and display his beloved dead pooch... to a wife who is fed up of her husband taking his wedding ring off every time he goes out with his mates. The show will be packed with laughs as Dermot and his guests discuss, debate and add their own personal take to each light-hearted and very funny tiff."
The Marriage Ref was piloted in January with Jo Brand as host, but Broadcast magazine reports that she has been replaced by X Factor anchor Dermot O'Leary as ITV wanted a more seasoned presenter. However, Brand is likely to still be involved in the show as a regular panellist. Other comedians expected to take part include Jack Dee and Sarah Millican.
The Sun reports that O'Leary will be paid £250,000 to host the show. The presenter told the paper's entertainment reporters: "It's a great show and the kind of thing I want to present because it's not your usual show. It's something I'd watch. I'd never do a gameshow. ITV have big plans for it, so fingers crossed."
ITV's The Marriage Ref is based on an American series that made its debut on NBC in February last year, where panellists included Ricky Gervais and Madonna. The show is hosted by comedian Tom Papa, with Jerry Seinfeld as one of the Executive Producers. Despite many negative reviews and declining ratings, the show was recommissioned and is due to return to NBC in June (NBC Website).
Producers are now looking for couples to take part in the ITV version (application form). The seven episodes, each an hour long, will be filmed in front of a live audience later in the year, and the show is expected to form part of ITV's autumn/winter schedule.