Saturday 19 August 2017

Six reasons to watch First Dates Ireland tonight (from someone who's seen the first episode)

Federica Sanaise, Mateo Saina, Simon Delany
Federica Sanaise, Mateo Saina, Simon Delany
Introducing the Maître D' for First Dates Ireland - Mateo Saina
Daters with Mateo Saina (Maitre D)
Photocall launch of RTE2 First Dates Ireland at The Gibson Hotel, Dublin, Ireland - 19.04.16. Pictures: Cathal Burke / VIPIRELAND.COM **IRISH RIGHTS ONLY** ***EMBARGOED IN PRINT, ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA UNTIL 6AM ON WEDNESDAY, 20TH APRIL*** *** Local Caption *** Federica Sanaise
Alice Marr and Mateo Saina of First Dates Ireland

Meadhbh McGrath

First Dates Ireland premieres tonight, and the pressure is on.

The British version is one of the most watched, and most loved, reality shows, so viewers’ expectations are high, but we’re pleased to report the Irish iteration does not disappoint.

Here are six reasons to tune in.

1) The agonising awkwardness: Any show where strangers are paired up for filmed blind dates is destined to have some cringe-worthy moments, and First Dates more than delivers.

As well as the inevitable squirming when the bill arrives, the daters spout plenty of lines throughout the evening that will have you wincing with second-hand embarrassment.

In the first episode, the beautiful South African model Federica should prove a firm favourite with viewers – she likes to test her men to see whether they’re intimidated by her, which leads to some interesting scenes with her date, Donegal accountant Lee.

Read more: 'Why I went looking for love in front of 17 TV cameras on RTE'

2) The saucy jokes: Although the first episode takes a solid 10 minutes or so to find its step, when it does, it’s a delight.

Introducing the Maître D' for First Dates Ireland - Mateo Saina
Introducing the Maître D' for First Dates Ireland - Mateo Saina

While RTE2 wisely chose not to mess with the formula of the series, it has thrown in just the right amount of Irish wit and charm to set it apart from the Channel 4 version.

Viewers will be familiar with the uniquely Irish technique of flirting by slagging your date into oblivion and will empathise with one dater’s confession that she “only flirts by insulting people”.

Combined with the groan-inducing innuendo we’ve come to expect from TV dating programmes, we’re off to an excellent start.

Daters with Mateo Saina (Maitre D)
Daters with Mateo Saina (Maitre D)

3) The remedy for your Tinder fatigue: For those who have grown tired of dating apps, First Dates offers a return to a more traditional form of dating: the blind date.

Part of the thrill of the show is the knowledge that no one involved had a chance to frantically Facebook stalk their date, and their attempts to disguise their joy – or horror – are a real treat.

In the first episode, one sexually fluid young woman doesn’t even know whether she’ll be matched with a man or a woman.

Photocall launch of RTE2 First Dates Ireland at The Gibson Hotel, Dublin, Ireland - 19.04.16. Pictures: Cathal Burke / VIPIRELAND.COM **IRISH RIGHTS ONLY** ***EMBARGOED IN PRINT, ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA UNTIL 6AM ON WEDNESDAY, 20TH APRIL*** *** Local Caption *** Federica Sanaise
Photocall launch of RTE2 First Dates Ireland at The Gibson Hotel, Dublin, Ireland - 19.04.16. Pictures: Cathal Burke / VIPIRELAND.COM **IRISH RIGHTS ONLY** ***EMBARGOED IN PRINT, ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA UNTIL 6AM ON WEDNESDAY, 20TH APRIL*** *** Local Caption *** Federica Sanaise

4) The unforgettable characters: RTE2 bosses assured Independent.ie that they weren’t interested in making “car crash TV”, but there are still some flamboyant characters that will have you dying for a spin-off series.

Rather than selecting obnoxious candidates who will make for outrageous TV, executive producer Linda Cullen said they sought out “very good characters who are also genuinely looking for love”.

In the first episode alone, we meet a boisterous landscaper, the feisty Federica and one “super” enthusiastic young guy you’ll find yourself scream-laughing along with for the rest of the episode.

Alice Marr and Mateo Saina of First Dates Ireland
Alice Marr and Mateo Saina of First Dates Ireland

Read more: Is RTE about to muck up First Dates with a 'craic date' and 'bumpety bump comedy music'?

5) The tears and tantrums: On a show that demands some level of emotional investment, you’re guaranteed to find yourself feeling heart-broken for some of the unlucky daters.

When it comes to that all-important money shot, where couples are asked whether they’d like to see each other again – while sitting side by side – one dater’s response had the whole room gasping with outrage.

6) The moments that will restore your faith in love: One of the strengths of the original UK series is how it makes viewers root for the couples, and the Irish version dutifully follows suit.

Thankfully, we can confirm that some lucky couples struck gold on their date, and will leave viewers cheering for a second round.

Whether there’ll be an Irish First Dates wedding to look forward to, we’ll have to wait and see…

First Dates Ireland airs tonight at 9.30pm on RTE2.

Online Editors

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment