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Wednesday 17 January 2018

So that's how they do it! First Dates Ireland producer reveals how his team select the perfect love match for the show

Gemma and Mark on First Dates Ireland
First Dates Ireland participant Federica
'Flame haired' Laura on First Dates.
Maitre D' Mateo Saina during the filming of RTE's new show First Dates. Photo: Tony Gavin

Sasha Brady

First Dates Ireland's producer reveals how the team go about selecting the perfect match as they welcome applicants for the second series.

Every Thursday a quarter of a million people tune in to RTE to watch Irish singletons go on a blind date with the hopes of finding love...or at the very least, a bit of craic.

Producer Ger Philpott has described working on the show as "amazing".

"We've had a really good time. It's an absolute joy to work on," he told Newstalk Breakfast.

First Dates Ireland participant Federica
First Dates Ireland participant Federica

He admitted that good dates don't happen by chance and the team put a lot of effort into setting applicants up with a suitable partner.

"We work very hard to match people."

He continued: "In the last series we had some ideal, cracking dates but we couldn't find suitable people for them to match so we spent a lot of time trying to match people's profiles, what they express about the kind of partner they would like to meet, and then we try our level best to actually find somebody that lives up to that."

The Coco TV producer admitted that sometimes it doesn't always go to plan because people aren't really honest with themselves about what they really want.

'Flame haired' Laura on First Dates.
'Flame haired' Laura on First Dates.

Take, for example, Darryl and Amy from episode one. The pair appeared to be getting on well before the Kildare lad drop-kicked his visibly shocked date into the friendzone.

"Darryl and Amy were a match made in heaven," said Ger.

"They got on like a house on fire but in the end he decided that he didn't want to pursue matters.

"Sometimes you give people what they asked for and it turns out they don't actually want what they asked for, they want something completely different - you just go with the information people give you.

Gemma and Mark on First Dates Ireland
Gemma and Mark on First Dates Ireland

"We spend a lot of time with people. Each date would have at least four hours one-on-one contact with a producer and we would then assess the people and they would progress through the system to the restaurant."

The First Dates boss also admitted that it came as a shock to the show's producers that Mark and Gemma from episode two had already been on a date together before.

"That was as much a shock to us as it was to viewers because we discovered it as the viewers did. We didn't know," he explained.

"We do a lot of background checks on people to see if they know each other, checking out social media profiles, and nothing came up to indicate that these two people would have met before at all. So we were really surprised.

Maitre D' Mateo Saina during the filming of RTE's new show First Dates. Photo: Tony Gavin
Maitre D' Mateo Saina during the filming of RTE's new show First Dates. Photo: Tony Gavin

"But it was a very good date in the end and they had a really good time together."

The show is currently filmed in Dublin's Gibson Hotel with Mateo Saina and Alice Marr act as maître d and head waitress.

It's become so popular that the show is accepting applicants for next season.

"Anybody can apply once they're over 18. We've had more than 3,000 applications over the weekend since it was announced on The Late Late Show on Friday night so there's a lot of interest out there," said Ger.

"Anybody can apply - gay, straight, tall, short, thin, fat, older, younger... you name it and we're happy to entertain their applications."

The TV producer said he believes the show is successful because it "has a heart".

"The reason why the show is so successful is that is has a heart, we genuinely do try to find love for people and I think that's what resonates with people.

"It's not exploitative reality TV. It's very respectful."

Those looking for love can fill out an application form on the Coco Television website.

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