Remote Control - Saturday March 13, 2015

Keeping a date with First Dates

Inside the First Dates Restaurant
Inside the First Dates Restaurant

If one thing is bound to grip a television audience then it is empathy, which is what makes First Dates such a popular show for many.

Most of us have a tales of woe from our first encounter with a ‘person of interest’, be it the old favourite of the skirt being tucked into the knickers or having custard stuck in one’s moustache which is why this programme (Channel 4, Wednesdays/Fridays 10pm) is accompanied by much online sniggering via social media.

It is a show made for Twitter and the instant audience feedback that medium brings but, more importantly, it is classic Friday night viewing – lots of laughs, big characters and very little thinking needed on the part of the viewer.

To say the new series started with a bang last week was an understatement, such was the simmering sexual tension from the very first pairing – 21-year-old Frankie and fellow dancer Muhala. But while the attraction was instant and obvious, it was more animal than Cupid’s arrow and the courting process which followed was more nudge, nudge, wink, wink than chocolates and flowers.

Every conversation between this otherwise dull pair was full of thinly-disguised innuendo which resulted in the irritating Frankie giggling incessantly like a northern Barbara Windsor. If the waitresses had asked her if she wanted the chef’s special Toad in the Hole they’d have been scraping her off the restaurant ceiling.

This liaison was toe-curling stuff and you sincerely hoped her parents were not watching.

Needless to say they got in the same taxi together and we were later informed they were ‘going steady’, a phrase I thought was the preserve of grandads everywhere.

Arguably the star of this particular episode was Lancastrian Scott, a vertically challenged former jockey who now works in a bookie’s and is cheerily searching for the ‘one’.

Unfortunately he didn’t meet his dream girl but instead met the rather tedious Natasha who proclaimed that it would take somebody special for her to change her spinster ways. You would get long odds on that happening any time soon.

But the villain of the piece was Cat, a reasonably attractive woman who seemed determined to adopt the Ming the Merciless look courtesy of her penchant for winged eyeliner.

Her hapless date Sav never stood a chance from the moment she scowled disdainfully at his turtle neck top. Things did not get better for him when the cheery waitress tried to lighten the mood by joking that his card had been declined. It didn’t work.

The series promises to remain a fixture on our screens for some time to come.

Blaise Tapp