Cupid strikes gold when it comes to Irish reviewers and RTE's take on the hit dating series
The first episode of First Dates airs on RTE tomorrow night... and we can reveal that love has in fact bloomed -at least between the critics and the show.
Importing the concept from the UK, RTE courted Irish reviewers at the Gibson Hotel yesterday, giving them a sneak peak at their goods, and many took to twitter soon afterwards to coo like televisual turtle doves.
Amy O'Connor from the DailyEdge went in cynical, but was won over by the show's measures of cringe and charm, and it didn't take a couple of glasses of wine to get her there (though she'll be armed for the second viewing).
Within a minute she had clocked a unique selling point which the Irish iteration has over the British model.
One minute into watching First Dates Ireland & I've already seen someone I recognise from school on it.— amy o'connor (@amyohconnor) April 19, 2016
Just watched the first episode of #FirstDatesIRL and it was SUPER! (inside joke)— Paula MacSweeney (@sweetpmac) April 19, 2016
They've done it so, so well. Charming, funny, cringy ❤️
Perhaps Fiona Flynn sums up best why the show works where so many other dating shows fail. In her review for entertainment.ie, she said "you really root for these single folk. You want them to find love, and not just for your own entertainment".
The six-part series features over 150 hopeful couples, aged between 18 and 75, as they look for love. The casting couch cupids, who manage the show, split them up into different categories - including the chemistry date (where the makers think there's something in their mutual back story which will make them click), golden dates (for golden oldies, of course), lesbian, gay and bi-sexual dates, and the worryingly-titled "saloon" dates, for people who are in the "last chance saloon".
Producer Ger Philpott told the Irish Examiner about how they 'cast' the show: “People applied online and we reviewed those. Then people were graded, and we had phone conversations with some applicants. Based on that, we chose people for an hour-long in-depth interview on camera. We got a very good sense of the person and also ideas along the way about who would work with who.”
He also suggests that the show's success was down to good old-fashioned romance: “The couples have had no contact with each other beforehand, whereas if you’re dating someone online, you’re bouncing back and forth and things move along quicker. I don’t know if this was a trip back in time but it is a different ball game."