First Dates' Fred Sirieix on series 4: "The moment the daters walk in, I get a very strong sense of whether it's going to work"
What's it like playing cupid on Channel 4's ob-doc dating show? RadioTimes.com spoke to the French maitre d' who caused quite a stir in the last series with his romantic advice...
If you watched the last series of First Dates, you'll know Fred very well indeed. As the maître d' of the restaurant where brave romantics go on blind dates and have their rendezvous filmed, he became a bit of a star, with viewers and daters joking (and often not joking) that they'd really rather go on a date with him...
As well as his main job meeting, greeting and making daters feel comfortable and relaxed, Fred's role is also to impart his wisdom about life and love to the cameras. For example:
"I've been a maitre d' all over the world, in Bordeaux, in Paris, in Monte Carlo, in America. People want the same thing. They want a relationship and they want to be loved."
Like poetry, isn't it?
So RadioTimes.com caught up with Fred to find out what it's like being in the First Dates restaurant while love blossoms all around him (and sometimes withers, too)...
Bonjour, Fred. What it's like to oversee a restaurant full of blind dates?
"It's great fun to be right in the middle of it, it's fascinating to see that happen before your eyes. We have 42 cameras and we film for 15 hours a day, so I do my normal job and take the order, go and see people to check if they're happy. I talk to them a lot more than is shown on TV because there's a lot to edit of course.
"I enjoyed it more this time. Last series I was wondering how I was doing whereas now I can concentrate on the daters. My vison is to make people fall in love, this is my thing. This is why I'm there."
When the daters walk into the restaurant and you greet them, are you trying to suss them out?
"When I'm at the door I get a sense of who they are and what they're thinking, and the moment the second person comes in, I get a very strong sense of whether it's going to work. The way they look at me, the way they talk. Within that first minute they decide whether they're in dating zone, friend zone or 'they're not my cup of tea' zone."
Are there any really bad dates in the new series?
"There's this couple where something happens at the table — I don't want to ruin it for the viewers — and a conflict just starts out of nowhere. It's like all of life and relationships in the space of two hours. It was just unbelievable to see it happen in that way so quickly, quite crazy in fact. There's something fundamental there that just wasn't working for them... they just clashed."
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As an unofficial expert in love, what do you think is a common dating downfall?
"The inability for people to see what's in front of them and listen, really listen."
Do you think dating's harder than ever in the modern world?
"We have too much choice, now you can go on Tinder and the other apps and sites. It's like being in a supermarket — if one is not right, you just move on. People don't have that reliability and loyalty. I don't where their values are, their sense of what is right and what is wrong."
That's quite a traditional view — do you think that First Dates is actually quite an old-fashioned show, then?
First Dates takes it back to basics because you are there with a purpose to find love. It's face-to-face and real, and you're talking to the person. And all that matters is how the date will pan out.
What is it about First Dates that prompts thousands of applications, and keeps it fresh in its fourth series?
"The true passion to get people together. It's the real deal. Humans like to believe in love and here you can see it before your eyes. Also, we are all in our own way very quirky and when you see the show you know that there's no such thing as normality."
First Dates series four starts on September 10th on Channel 4 at 10pm