IT’S the start of an incredible eleventh series of the BAFTA award-winning show which does so much more than it says on the tin. Yes, we get to revel in the cringe factor of watching nervous people awkwardly try to flirt, or even more awkwardly try to give someone the brush off. And yes, we can enjoy those “there but for the grace of God” moments, as we watch one of the datees start crying, or drop dinner down their top, realise they have absolutely nothing in common with the person they’ve been matched with or – even worse – used to go out with them. But it’s the stories behind each of these hopeful singletons that elevate this show to something special. Each time they give us a few minutes to meet the man or woman in question, see them in action, develop our own first impressions about who and what they are, and then bam! – they hit us with a tale of heartbreak, or bravery, or a hidden secret, that turns everything on its head and makes us realise you can’t judge a book by its cover, and all those other very valid clichés. Those looking for love tonight include homebody Abbi, who’s more into cups of tea than cocktails, and politics student Cameron whose fashion inspiration is Cruella De Vil and whose political inspiration is Maggie Thatcher. Then there’s 75-year-old divorcée Deanna, who brings a shopping trolley full of snacks and treats, and stunning beautician Bianca from Bradford, who at first is a bit overwhelmed by her date Teza’s confidence, until they both learn there’s way more to each other than meets the eye.
If you can find yourself watching this without beaming and smiling, and also shedding a tear or two, then you have a heart of stone.
Bianca and Teza Joe and Cameron
Alex and Deanna Lee and Abi