Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s Bliiiiiiind Daaaaate!
The dividing screen, the double entendres, the awkward post-date rows – they’re all returning after a 14-year absence to remind us of the world of offline dating.
But despite the show’s nostalgic intention, new broadcaster Channel 5 has modernised the dating extravaganza with a few new twists. The format of one hopeless romantic picking from three innuendo-driven singletons remains untouched, but there have been updates that’ll please right-swiping millennial daters. Starting with…
1. The theme music
This is not a drill, folks: TV’s catchiest theme song has been altered since it last aired. But only slightly.
Although Channel 5 haven’t tampered with the sacrosanct brass melody, they have set it to a funk guitar backdrop, calmed the saxophone solos and reduced the baseline to a slow clap. And overall that should be a welcome change from the heavily-layered theme of the original show’s later years…
Unfortunately Channel 5 are making you wait until Saturday night to hear the new theme in full, but we can assure you that you’ll still be able to sing along with the usual lyrics.You know the ones: BLIND DATE/ BLIND DATE/ BLIND DATE BLIND DATE BLIND DATE / BLIND DATE/ BLIND DATE/ BLIND DATE BLIND DATE BLIND DATE…
2. The Studio
A new set is no surprise surprise here: when Cilla fronted the show, the set underwent a series of renovations from its first cream-coloured origin in 1985…
…to the cardboard-looking 1990 set…
The glowingly groooovay pink set in 1999…
And Cilla’s final Blind Date stage for her celebration show The One and Only in 2013.
But this time? Well, hope you LOVE lampshades as they’re plastered all over the walls like an Ikea Tardis interior.
It’s also unmistakably the bluest set yet – a bold choice of mood lighting. Exactly what mood, however, we’re not quite sure.
3. The host
True, Blind Date will never be the same after Cilla sadly passed away in 2015. But we’re still hoping for a lorra lorra laughs from new presenter Paul O’Grady, who regarded the former host as “like a sister”.
But although the innuendo-laden matchmaking and camp charm are a natural fit for O’Grady, the Lily Savage performer recently revealed his reservations when filming the reboot: “It was a shock at first when I heard the music, and they said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your host, Paul O’Grady’,” he told Radio Times.
“I thought, ‘This isn’t right, it’s so synonymous with Cilla, she should be here, not me.’ I felt like I shouldn’t be doing it. It was her show.”
In fact, the stand-up was only calmed after reassurances from Cilla’s kids: “I spoke to her sons and lots of people who knew her and they said, ‘You have to do it, because she’d want you to do it for everyone.’”
4. The voiceover
Not only will Cilla be missing from the matchmaking mayhem, but Our Graham’s dulcet tones will be absent from the airwaves also. At 81 years old, Graham Skidmore, the show’s retired original voiceover artist, will be watching the show from home, Channel 5 told Radiotimes.com.
But to keep Blind Date’s gender balance, Our Graham will be replaced by Our Mel – Big Breakfast presenter and Capital FM DJ Melanie Sykes. Her job won’t be as large as Skidmore’s: Sykes won’t be delivering the ‘Aaaand here’s your host…’ opener – O’Grady will simply step out to the theme music. She will, however, be bringing us those pun-packed summaries of the contestants.
5. LGBTQ contestants
This time round the matchmaking won’t be restricted to stories of boy meets girl. Channel 5 have announced the new “updated for the 21st century” Blind Date will star lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender contestants looking for love.
It’s a shift welcomed by gay rights group Stonewall, who told Buzzfeed: “Not only will this send a strong message that LGBT people and their relationships are valid, but it can also enable viewers to learn more about LGBT people and their relationships.”
The change also fits perfectly with gay rights activist O’Grady – he often used his fantastically catty drag queen persona Lily Savage to speak out for the LGBT community.
6. The golden envelopes
Remember Cilla’s trio of shiny envelopes she would offer the newly-paired couple? The cards containing either a dream date in the Bahamas, a trip to Rome or a dud day-out to Blackpool (sorry, Blackpool)? They’ve been scrapped. Instead the contestants will be handed…DRUM ROLL, PLEASE…one gold envelope.
Yes, the hopeful romantics will no longer be offered a selection of dates, but they will get a fun clue about where O’Grady is sending them.
And a well-meaning word of warning here: don’t expect the contestants to be flown first-class to the Maldives each week – it’s possible Channel 5 doesn’t have the spending power of 1990s ITV where, in its heyday, Cilla’s show could rake in a staggering 18.6million.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the reboot will produce fewer happy relationships. After all, riches can’t buy you romance, right?
Blind Date starts on Saturday 17th June at 7pm on Channel 5
Additional reporting by Sarah Doran.