WATCH: Love at first sight or a cringefest in the making as RTE launches First Dates Ireland?
Published 20/04/2016 | 07:13
The UK show may be a tough act to follow, but the producer behind new matchmaking series First Dates Ireland reckons the RTE series will be even better.
There will be plenty of head-in-hands moments and cheesy one-liners to keep viewers entertained when the doors to the First Dates restaurant, in the Gibson Hotel, open tomorrow.
The singles looking for love certainly don't disappoint with a wide variety of characters out to impress their blind dates - including confident South African model Federica Sanasie and Dublin waiter Simon Delany.
Outgoing Federica told the Herald she is looking for love after a tumultuous relationship with a famous Irish man, whose name she refused to divulge.
"The relationships I've been in in the past weren't great. My last relationship was with a popular, famous guy and I had a bad experience with him."
While Federica is set to make a big impression on her "terrified" date - Donegal man Lee - Dubliner Simon hit it off straight away with his blind date, Tynan.
A waiter from Sandymount, Simon was very open with his date and told Tynan about an overdose following a break down.
"I think mental health is something that should be spoken about. We need to not have such a taboo about it."
Simon, who has been single for seven years, admitted taking part in the show was "terrifying, because normally when you go on a date you have a strong drink beforehand, but it was great."
RTE denied daters were plied with alcohol before going on the show and said they were very conscious not to turn it into car crash TV.
"There are soft drinks and water and a couple of bottles of wine, for 20 people, in a room in advance," executive producer Linda Cullen told the Herald.
"Then when they come into the restaurant they can have wine or buy whatever they would have normally."
"I didn't have much to drink," Federica said.
"You don't want to be rocking up on camera thrashed," Simon said.
Show bosses said they were more concerned with looking for "people with big characters who are genuinely looking for love."
Applicants were first subjected to an hour-long phone interview and producers said they spent "months" coming up with matches they thought would work onscreen.
"We weren't just going to throw people together," Linda said.
"We have a list of people for the next series - if there is a next series. It's a format that works, but this is an Irish version, I think it is better."
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Viewers will also get a first look at Maitre d' Mateo Sania, who is originally from Croatia and made his debut TV appearance.
Mateo is in a long-term relationship and said he "expected a car crash" when watching himself on TV for the first time.
The six-part series will feature over 150 hopeful couples aged between 18 and 75, and RTE are expected to give a second series the green light, subject to positive ratings.