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25th Jan 2024

‘I went on First Dates Ireland – this is what happens behind the scenes’

Anna Martin

first dates

If you happened to tune into First Dates, you may have spotted me

I was the one on First Dates tonight who came armed with a load of waffly conversation and a miniature house that I made because I’m just that cool.

Yet what you see on the TV is only part of the story, so much more happens before you walk into the restaurant and sit at the bar with your heart pounding.

For me, it started with one of my best friends Kaytlin and my younger sister Lucy egging me on.

I’ve been perpetually single for a while now, always finding myself in awkward situationships where the small talk is boring and the feelings are big. Gross.

So after a glass of wine and a bit of nagging, I filled out the application but on my own terms.

@rte2 "I'd be neglected if I didn't like spuds"🤣 #FirstDatesIRL returns this Thursday at9:35pm | @rteplayer ♬ original sound – RTÉ

To be honest I kind of took the mick of out the whole thing like answering the question of “what do you look for in a partner,” with “a pulse”.

Bish bash bosh done, and I forgot about it until I got a call when I was in the shower, thinking it was my mother I answered but when I realised it was a member of the First Dates crew on the phone, I damn well nealy threw it out the door.

Yet in the year 2023, I was feeling brave so I said yes. Okay not completely true, I knew my bestie and my sister would skin me alive if I turned it down.

So then I started the process of a phone interview with the team behind the show and I quickly realised there was nothing to be afraid of, everyone was so positive and reassuring it went from feeling like a bad idea to a good one.

My first taste of showbiz came when I did my solo interview where I was asked so many questions about myself and my ideal partner.

Though walking in can be intimidating you’re quickly put at ease. Plus, I just had to talk about me and I’m an expert on that topic.

More time passes and it’s date time. Was I nervous? Absolutely bricking it. I like nothing about what’s going to happen, I’m a complete control freak, but this was out of my hands.

For the love of God, I didn’t even know if I would be dating a boy or a girl. I was making a mental list of who I hadn’t come out to yet.

Credit: RTÉ

I don’t know what happened but on the walk down to those iconic doors, which I managed to open the right way, a switch flipped in my brain and I was ready. Kinda.

First things first, Mateo is beautiful.

My experience was complete after meeting him. How dare he be so good-looking but so lovely? I ended up waffling about my auntie to him, something I will never live down.

What they don’t show is the moment he walks you to the bar, the whole time he checks you’re okay, offers reassurance and lets you know what’ll happen when you sit down.

From here what you see is more or less what you get, the chat is real, no one pulls you aside to say “Oh ask this question! Did you tell them about this?” it’s just a date, one with cameras, but a date nonetheless.

Honestly, you hardly notice the cameras, they’re well out of sight so it doesn’t even feel like you’re being watched except for when you’re in the bathroom, that one’s hard to avoid.

The one thing that really sets the restaurant apart is how quiet it is. Of course, there are background daters but they’re not loud and no music plays.

So you kind of have to fill that silence and my big mouth took over (apologies to Ailish you probably feel like you didn’t get a word in, I waffle when nervous.)

First Dates
Credit: RTÉ

I’m so glad it was Ailish who was sat across from me, we seemed to be on the same wavelength, just having fun and joking about the situation.

The actual date lasts about an hour and a half before it’s time to decide if you want to go on another date, which we did.

Spoiler alert we never went. Sorry to disappoint, but now we both have a great story at least.

Yet the funniest part of the whole filming process, it’s the taxi at the end that drives like 10 meters before you get out and say your actual goodbye.

Most people never take the taxi anywhere but I was rushing to the airport straight off on my next adventure.