First Dates, TV review: Embarrassing dialogue served with a side order of class consciousness

The Channel 4 show is a refreshingly simple concept, in which various twenty-somethings get to know each other in a nice restaurant

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The participants in Channel 4's show were on a hunt for a mate, or a “gazelle” as Liam (‘I’m a catch - it’s the dimples”) put it. It was a refreshingly simple concept, an updating of the late Cilla Black’s Blind Date, with various twenty-somethings getting to know each other in a nice restaurant, with an odd maître d’ gently playing cupid (He’s French, naturallement).

They were filmed saying the most embarrassing things, both “nice embarrassing “ and “cringe embarrassing”, and at the end they went before the camera again to tell each other what they thought. Of course, it wouldn’t be a British thing without a fairly generous side order of class consciousness, and so all the possible-couples were matched broadly along their place in the social order.

So, for example, Josh, who works in Aldi and looks like Matt Lucas with hair, shared his thoughts with Suraya, who is a health care assistant; Anna, the PR manager “at the top of her game” was teamed with Liam, a recruitment consultant, and Michael and Karina, were able to exchange anecdotes about stripping in pubs. It might have been better if they’d tried to mix the classes up a bit.


I can do no better than to reproduce here some of the more arresting lines of dialogue during the proceedings;

“Let me smother you in green paint and spank you like the avocado you are”

“People tell me I have a bitchy resting face problem”

“I burned my willy”

“Mum thought I was a lesbian”

“I’m attracted to chubbier men”

“I won’t sit on his face, fine”

“You can always tell a good wine when it’s a screw top”.

“I thought you were older”

“My type is short brunette birds with good figures, and she ticked all of those boxes”

“I’m a people person”

“You look like a celebrity”

“I talk to the angels”

“I do not know why I am single”

“I bought a pram for my cats”

And, of course, “I’m a Liberal Democrat”, which proved its effectivenss as a passion killer once again. That confession fell from the nervous lips of Louis, described as a linguist from Oxford, but he was not such a cunning linguist, if you see what I mean, that he couldn’t think of a better way to start a conversation than that. He seemed to me someone who had taken the whole Hugh Grant thing far too far, and was left with significantly impaired social and, ironically enough, linguistic skills.

His date, the rather ballsy Adella, told him straight out that he was great apart from lacking the “confidence factor”, and if there was one dating lesson we chaps should learn from this show it is that confidence is the greatest aphrodisiac, apparently more potent than power or good looks. (By the way, ladies, you should also be aware that I have never been daunted by any challenge and that my friends tell me that, if anything, I am too confident.)

I’ll get my coat.