FILMING on the eagerly anticipated Irish version of Come Dine With Me is due to start in Dublin on February 14, the Herald can reveal.
There was excitement among Irish foodies after it emerged that producers of the popular Channel 4 reality cookery programme were coming here to film an Irish version.
And they will be finalising the shortlist of successful contestants over the coming weeks, ahead of filming, which starts in Dublin on Valentine's Day.
"They have interviewed most of the people that applied to be on the series. Obviously there was a huge interest in doing the show so the crew have been going around the country, meeting all the best applicants.
"It's a lot like the British format of the show, they want to stir up lots of controversy and interesting dinner party conversation.
"Some of the questions people are being asked is what kind of people they would clash with and the kind of things they hate and what really gets their goat.
"They're also asked to propose a menu of something they would be cooking on the night and the successful applicants are being informed over the next couple of weeks."
Two full episodes of the series will be made in Dublin, alongside one in Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway.
The programme has a massive following in Ireland, with nearly 5,000 people joining a Facebook page campaigning to have an Irish version made here.
TV3 will be broadcasting 30 episodes of the Irish version, which is being made for the station by ITV Studios and featuring the acerbic voice-over of Dave Lamb.
And it has been confirmed that the resulting series will also be screened on British stations, with €1,000 up for grabs for the winner. TV3's director of programming, Ben Frow, said that making an Irish Come Dine With Me had been a priority for the station for several years.
But the issue was complicated by the fact that the station's former part-owners, ITV, were rivals of Channel 4 which own the rights. "We are delighted to have it. It is the most successful food format in the world along with Masterchef," he said.
-- MELANIE FINN