First Dates Ireland – Series Two Review
By Charlotte Reid
Thursdays, 9.30pm, RTÉ2
After a popular first series, First Dates Ireland is back with a second to match up singletons in the ‘first dates’ restaurant. Under the watchful eye of the familiar Maître D’ and staff, participants are paired together for blind dates and we get to watch as everything unfolds.
It’s hard not to compare it to the UK original, an imported format is always going to leave people with high expectations. Living up to an established show has its problems when you’re bringing it into a new country with its own culture. We all know the formats that have fallen a little short when they’ve crossed over the Irish sea. But this is a show that’s travelled very well, if anything, the daters seem to be a lot more open and honest than the English version. Does that mean it often works out for a second date? No actually; a lot of viewers were left frustrated from the first series as seemingly well matched pairs decided not to pursue the romance. For series two it seems to have got off to a more fruitful start in terms of happy couples, though there is one heart breaking moment it may take you a while you get over.
The format works well because it cuts out all of the frills often associated with dating shows, by being a fly on the wall it feels a lot more natural. We see snippets of their pre-date interviews throughout and they’ve done a great job of showing people as likeable characters with their own flaws. If there’s a dramatic detail it’s revealed as and when the person themselves decides to do it on the date. In this episode, Lauren tells Paddy about her cystic fibrosis as it comes up naturally in conversation, then it is interspersed with her discussing it in her interview. If she didn’t want to bring it up, she didn’t have to. It’s only at the end it feels a bit forced when they’re interviewed together, and if they agree to a second date one will kiss the other on the cheek. They might as well have the producer in shot asking them to do it.
I’m nit picking here, but a big part of the show’s charm is that we feel like we know the staff in the restaurant, they’re the constant familiarity as the daters change. But they seemed to be lacking some screen time this time around, obviously it’s the first episode so there’s plenty of time to change that. It’s a nice touch to have them being the voyeurs in the restaurant as well as us at home.
All in all, First Dates Ireland has returned with a bang, the couples are a great mix from those on their very first dates to ones who have had their fair share of heart break already. Some couples get more screen time than others, but every person’s character is developed enough that you’re rooting for every pairing to work out, even if it doesn’t all the time.