I must be the last person in Britain to catch on to the phenomenon that is Channel 4 show First Dates. Currently in its eighth season, you might say I'm a bit late jumping on the bandwagon.
I was always aware of the show; my sister is that obsessed that being unaware would’ve been impossible. Every time I went round for dinner she’d make me watch it with her, and every time we caught up it would wind up in the conversation somehow, with her downright insisting that I watch it.
Maybe it was the defiant little kid sister in me who still appears sometimes when she insists things to me (can’t help it) that made me repeat time and again that it didn’t interest me, or maybe it was the show’s premise. Somehow, it just doesn’t sound like a show that could be as utterly charming as it in fact is.
Set in a London restaurant, participants meet with someone who the show makers consider a match, and the two embark on their first date. Sometimes, it turns out to be their last one, but sometimes a little magic happens and beautiful relationships are born... Late last year, the first First Dates baby was announced, as a couple who fell in love on the show revealed they were expecting a child together.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes it so enjoyable to watch; maybe that it is often so genuinely heart-warming, maybe that it goes to show that no matter how different we all are as individuals, when it comes to the basic desire to share life with someone, we're essentially all the same. People put themselves in a very vulnerable position going on this show, and I feel like in doing so, they demonstrate the best parts of humanity.
Like I said, I’ve watched it a couple of times at my sisters before, but it wasn’t until last night’s episode that I can confess I am now 100% in love with this show. There were two stories which got to me.
One was 90-year-old Raymond (can we just take a second to talk about how amazing he looks for his age... that hair!) who lost his wife of 50 years a few years back, and is now looking for a companion to live out his golden years with. I, along with every other viewer in the country, turned into an emotional mess as he talked about his wife and the love they shared... just see clip below.
Although it induces hysterical weeping (was that just me?) there is something so lovely to me about this funny memory Raymond shares. They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never loved at all, and despite his pain at not having his love with him anymore, this clip reinforced that for me. Rather than the big events, it’s those little moments that stay with us; the funny little things we do, the rituals we create and routines we get into. How much blander would our lives be to look back on without them?
The second story I don’t need to explain, as the clip below says it all. One bit I have to share that the clip doesn't show... when Phil asked Sarah if there was anything she missed since having her leg amputated, she answered 'walking in the sea.' He told her someone should just carry her in. At the end of show, it recapped on each couple we were introduced to, and it confirmed the two are now officially an item, and their latest date was - GET THIS - to the seaside, where Phil carried her into the sea. I'm finished.
It's just so lovely to witness people meet and to see the little looks and the little moments that can happen, and that this show prove DO happen all the time. There must be so many millions of tiny beautiful moments like the ones this show captures that happen between people every day, and I don't think being reminded of that is a bad thing at all.
God love you, First Dates. Keep bringing the love... I’ll know to have my tissues ready next week!