From Pride and Prejudice espousing the virtues of a big romantic gesture, to Doctor Who providing a complete kissing guide, your TV is well-versed in lessons of love. Providing you’re not watching First Dates, that is.
Although couples have formed relationships on the show (with one even having a baby), the Channel 4 matchmaker is mostly a collection of awkward dating moments. Which you can put to good use.
You don’t need the dating know-how of Maitre D’ Fred Sirieix to steer clear of any romantic roadblocks: just pay attention to some of the boldest etiquette on the show – and more precisely, how to avoid it.
1. Don’t have too much booze beforehand
This one’s a bit self-explanatory: although the barman may look friendly enough (especially if he looks like First Dates resident mixologist Merlin Griffiths), getting too acquainted with them before the show can be a cocktail for disaster. Ask Anna from series three, who turned up to the restaurant admitting she’d had a bit to drink – before ordering yet more tequila shots…
To cut a drunken story short: the date didn’t end in a steaming romance. It did, however, end with Anna pulling off some dance moves accompanied by her own singing, forcing the night to conclude without a meal.
As her disappointed date Simon put it: “there’s Dutch courage and then there’s drinking all of Holland.”
2. Don’t flirt with the staff
You can thank hairdresser Ben for this pointer. He started his evening by waving a kiss at the waitresses, waiting until his date Daisy made the obligatory trip to the loos/phoning booth to try his big move. As waitress Laura Tott sauntered over to his table to ask how it was going, Ben complimented what his date was wearing before dropping this line: “You’re pretty hot. I’d be very happy if you were sat there.”
So far, so creepy. But after another trip to the toilet left him alone with the waitress for a second time, Ben once again turned to Tott, saying, “I fancy the waitress”. On national TV.
Tott didn’t give Ben a date, and Daisy walked out after discovering his flirtatious ways. However, the waiter did tweet a picture of herself hiding behind a tray when the episode aired. Which was followed by viewers commenting “Ben’s teeth are brighter than he is”.
Turning up to a date with a close friend sounds like a clever support system, a fail-safe crutch for anxiety-prone romantics. It’s not. Your proof: the tragedy of Jack and Josh in the latest series of the show. The duo of club promoters quickly stirred their inner-alpha males when only one of their dates turned up. For a bit of fun, Fred didn’t say which gentleman she would be dining with.
And when Jasmine, the last of the dating quartet finally arrived, Fred asked the chaps to work out who they were supposed to be matched with. Which they got wrong.
Horribly awkward for all involved, brilliantly entertaining for the rest of us.
4. Don’t weightlift your date
Simple reason: you’ll break their clothes. That’s what part-time nanny Lucy found out when fitness enthusiast Caroline tried to show how strong she was. Turns out Caroline was strong enough to snap her date’s dress strap.
5. Don’t forget that Egypt is a real country
Or you risk repeating the fateful conversation that romantic hopefuls Paige and AJ endured:
AJ: “My Mum’s Half Egyptian.”
Paige: “I didn’t know you could be Egyptian.”
The two didn’t meet up again.
6. Never ask this question
Looking for an instant way to lead a magical date down knockturn alley? Inquire about their previous romantic partners.
That’s a line of questioning one guy took after first meeting his date. Spoiler: it doesn’t come off as charming.
7. Don’t be anything like this guy
He’s called Jayden. He appeared in the third series of First Dates. And he’s one of the, shall we say, more controversial hopefuls to grace the show.
First up, Jayden announces to his date Isabel he’s on the lookout for a soul mate. And that he’s a virgin who’s “only kissed four girls”.
However, when asked his actual number in his pre-date interview, Jayden’s answer is a bit different: “as you can guess, it’s pretty high. Higher than you’d expect. It’s not something to be proud of, but at the same time I’m so proud of it.”
But then Jayden is caught out after opening up about his friendship group. And thus the romantic bubble was popped…
8. Don’t get angry about the size of the bill
It’s dating etiquette 101: even if your share of the bill means you’ll be eating cold baked beans for the foreseeable future, you don’t kick up a fuss. Why? You’ll look like First Dates’ Louis, who became loudly disgruntled by the cost of his meal.
As well as refusing to pay the service charge, he meticulously calculated his portion of the dishes shared with his date (“well you had more of the brownie!”), before loudly dropping the defining line of the night: “I went to Pizza Hut the other day and it cost me £28!”
In case you need telling: Louis left in his own taxi that night.
9. Don’t gatecrash another table
Even if Alexandra Burke is there. During an episode of Celebrity First Dates, a probably well-meaning dater sauntered across the restaurant to say he recognised the former X Factor winner:
“Oh my God, I’m a big fan of yours! I can’t remember your name because my head is so f***ed!”
And if it wasn’t “tres awks” enough, as Fred would say, the same well-wisher interrupted another celebrity date, identifying Jamie Lang to his unknowing dinner guest.