Sarah Millican: If this is dating, I’m keeping my man

“If he orders two types of potato, he’s a keeper.”

It’s been a long time since my last date. I suspect my fella wouldn’t approve. My last date was some eight years ago and that one worked so I kept it.

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We still have “date nights”, which are nights we go out for dinner but don’t eat too much (wink), or when we see a film we’re happy to make smart-arsed comments through, accompanied by the occasional grope. Oh yes, eight years and still groping.

But don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are single, some voluntarily and some frustratingly. That life looks hard to me now. If you’re dating, you have to shave your legs regularly and wear lip liner. And pretend you don’t have sides with every meal in case some bloke you’re not even sure you like thinks you’re a gannet.

I say, be a gannet. Oh, and if he orders two types of potato, he’s a keeper. I watched Channel 4’s real-life dating show First Dates with interest (and from behind a cushion). In it, a restaurant becomes a “first date club” every Saturday night. All lips are lined and the boys are wearing unstained tops.

It must be great to know what everyone around you is doing there. Normally, I have to listen in to conversations for that sort of insight. The only time you really know why everyone’s at a restaurant is Valentine’s Day when it’s either new love or people having affairs.

The loos play a big part in this show as they serve as a sort of panic room for the women, popping in to ring their friends or chat to each other about how badly it’s going. There is no footage of the men visiting the toilet. I suspect that would be less date debrief and more comparing outputs.

The men who are left waiting by the congregating women often worry that they are being stood up. I used to think my boyfriend was doing a runner every time we went to a restaurant until I cottoned on to his unsophisticated digestive system and its one in, one out policy.

For me, the highlights of the show were the best and worst moments. When a man, perhaps due to nerves, said only things inappropriate for a first date; when a woman couldn’t understand why her date had never been to Ibiza; when a man said, “I hope no women find out I’ve slept with over 250 of them” on national telly; when a man who wanted vivacious got it and then didn’t know what to do with it; and when a couple were so uncomfortable with each other that they just listed fruit.

My favourite couple, and there must be scope for a spin-off series, was an older one.

She had been divorced a long time but was fully versed in all shades of “grey”. He was a relatively recent widower with an interest in knitting and clocks. I could have watched them chat for hours. When they leaned in to each other, it was hard to tell if it was down to interest or deafness.

I can only assume the production team was largely male, due to the regular and jarring shots up skirts and of thighs. Pity.

On the flipside, Channel 4’s Dates is made up and OK to laugh at. It is excellent, with funny, touching, fast-paced dialogue and some properly good performances.

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Sarah’s stand-up DVD, Thoroughly Modern Millican Live, is available at radiotimes.com/dvdshop