9 of the best dating shows in British TV history
Cilla Black Blind Date

The fourth series of Channel 4’s First Dates is back on our screens, and we are very excited.

For anyone who hasn’t seen it (and you should rectify that immediately) it all takes place in a London restaurant, fully reserved for couples on their first date. And of course, those couples are matched by the casting team, who essentially act as a dating agency, sifting through the applications to see who may (or may not) work together.

First Dates is very much the dating show of the moment. And it’s safe to say that the world of dating shows has blossomed over the years.

From the golden days of Blind Date with the late Cilla Black, right through to the social experiment of Married at First Sight, we take a look back at our favourite ever dating shows.

Best uk dating shows on tv 2015 1. Blind Date 9 of the best dating shows in British TV history | WOW247

The daddy of all dating shows, Blind Date aired on ITV from 1985 until 2003, and paved the way for dating shows for years to come. The late Cilla Black won over the British public with catchphrases like “a ‘lorra ‘lorra laughs”, “what’s your name and where d’ya come from?” and “here’s our Graham with a quick reminder!” The show was essential Saturday night viewing for a ‘lorra people, for a ‘lorra years.

It did seem back then that the audience was happiest when the couples weren’t getting on; encouragingly cheering during any disagreements that occurred during their post-date debrief where they usually slung insults at each other, including one lovely gent telling his date that she should think about “getting plastic surgery”.

Best uk dating shows on tv 2015 2. Street Mate 9 of the best dating shows in British TV history | WOW247

Streetmate was a fave. The original with Davina McCall that is.

Holly Willoughby’s attempt to resurrect the show in 2007 fell flat on its face. The original early ’00’s show saw McCall running around the streets of Britain like a maniac, roping innocent bystandes into a mission to find a date on the streets by approaching anyone who they think looks semi attractive from a distance. Based purely on looks, the best part of this show was the gloriously awkward rejection that happened more often than not.

Best uk dating shows on tv 2015 3. Man O Man 9 of the best dating shows in British TV history | WOW247

OK, so this wasn’t quite a dating show as such but it was super cheesy, a bit cruel and the premise was similar. Set in a fake jungle and presented by Chris Tarrant, Man O Man involved a group of ten men being judged by an audience of (mainly drunk) women.

Based on the idea of a beauty pageant, the men would have four rounds where they had to impress the audience with their chat up lines, party pieces and a final “hunks in trunks” round. The women in the audience would vote and the men with the lowest scores would subsequently be pushed into the swimming pool behind them by the group of sexily dressed ‘hostesses’. Harsh? Yes. Sexist? Completely. Did we love it? 100%.

Best uk dating shows on tv 2015 4. Playing It Straight UK 9 of the best dating shows in British TV history | WOW247

Presented by Jamila Jamil, the UK version of the American original saw one girl pick her “dream partner” from eleven men of different sexual orientations. Questionable tasks included dressing up in drag and carrying out so-called “macho” tasks in order to convince the female that they were straight. Dubious morals, excellent trash TV.

Best uk dating shows on tv 2015 5. Dinner Date 9 of the best dating shows in British TV history | WOW247

If anything is going to make it into the ‘guilty pleasure’ bracket, it’s Dinner Date. It’s pretty crap. But it’s always on and it’s classic easy watching. A singleton is shown five menus from which they must choose three. They then go round to each of the menu’s owners for a cringey dinner of epic proportions. Questions like “what’s your favourite colour” are often asked.

It was around this time that dating shows started to be a bit more in-depth and not just based purely on physical appearance. Well, we say depth. We mean dinner.

Best uk dating shows on tv 2015 6. Take Me Out 9 of the best dating shows in British TV history | WOW247

Based on the premise of “No likey? No lighty”, Take Me Out is another massively shallow show. But it is brilliant.

Paddy McGuinness likes to let the “PJ see the Duncan” or the ‘Nut see the cracker” when he introduces the latest single man to the set via the love lift. Perhaps the most memorable blackout of all time came in the form of poor Thomas from Stirling. Cue exiting the studio to the warbling of Celine Dion’s ‘All By Myself’. So harsh. But what did you expect to happen with that suit?

Best uk dating shows on tv 2015 7. The Undateables 9 of the best dating shows in British TV history | WOW247

A show that’s caused much controversy and disagreement, The Undateables has made it on to our list for daring to be different. Channel 4 justifies it this way: “People living with challenging conditions are often considered ‘undateable‘ – this series meets a few and follows their attempts to find love.”

While there is something that feels slightly uncomfortable about the title, and ideally we would like to see things progress to a place where disabled people feature in a dating show alongside non-disabled people, who are all looking for love, it does makes for great viewing and the characters are brilliant.

Check out this awkward joke from Shaine, a favourite moment:

Best uk dating shows on tv 2015 8. First Dates 9 of the best dating shows in British TV history | WOW247

Channel 4’s First Dates lends itself perfectly to awkward conversation, such as discussing bodily hair before the starters have been been ordered (see above). While the show has its fair share of disastrous dates, it’s brilliant viewing – dating with a bit of depth. And does anyone else want to marry this season’s Louis a little bit, just out of sympathy?

Best uk dating shows on tv 2015 9. Married at First Sight 9 of the best dating shows in British TV history | WOW247

We’ve come a long way from the days of just a ‘blind date’. How about a ‘blind wedding’, with a future spouse that you have absolutely no say in at all.

This one was a ‘social experiment’ that told us a lot about the state of dating in a modern, career-driven society. So busy, in fact, that you’re prepared to just turn up to your wedding having never met the person that you are about to be legally bound to.

Selected by a bunch of psychologists and relationship experts after numerous ‘scientific tests’, this show is more than your average dating show and explores the possibility of using science to matchmake, rather than basing it all on looks.

Starting out with three couples, there was one success story in the form of Emma and James who are still married six months after the show was filmed. Surprising when you think back to the cringeworthy hell of their wedding ceremony.