So, about two years ago I appeared on the popular ITVbe dating show, Dinner Date. And, despite regularly documenting my dating disasters in my blog, I’ve never written about this experience…until now.
Like all good ideas, this one originated from my mum. A big fan of the show, she thought I’d be perfect for the program. I’m still not sure why, given my poor cooking record and even poorer dating experiences!
Not sharing my mum’s confidence, I decided not to apply…that is until one random night, when for some random reason, I randomly Googled Dinner Date, randomly found the application and randomly sent it off.
I thought that was randomly that, until a few months later when I was driving home from work and a call came through from an unknown number on my phone. Answering (on hands-free of course, safety first!) I was surprised to hear a very enthusiastic TV producer phoning from Dinner Date wanting to ask me about my application. My heart instantly sank like it does the morning after a night out and you try and work out how much damage those drunken texts have done.
Luckily, the overly enthusiastic TV producer soon put me ease and before long I was telling her everything from my views on Tinder to why my first relationship ended. By the end of the conversation I was so relaxed, I probably would have given her my bank details if she’d asked politely enough…thankfully she didn’t and instead said she’d like me to do an audition, where they’d send a guy round to film me and see what I was like on camera. Now, I’m not going to lie, I did find the thought of this slightly terrifying. But, at this point I honestly still the thought the chances of me actually appearing on telly were virtually null. Plus, I’m a strong believer in you regret the things you don’t do, not the things you do do, so I decided to do do, and said yes!
Now, I’m not sure if it was because the guy doing the filming was insanely cute and camp or if maybe nerves go full circle, so when you when you reach your peak you don’t actually feel scared, but when it came to the day of the audition I was freakishly calm. Just like with the TV producer, I chatted happily with camera guy about my dating history, my crushes and my quirks – this comes up again later…
After filming, the cameraman was really sweet about how I’d come across, but I really thought he was just being polite and that was to be the end of my Dinner Date experience. It was perfect timing too, because I was off on a weeklong holiday to Lanzarote with my lovely sister. However, mid holiday, when I was lazing by the pool about to post yet another obligatory boasty holiday picture, I saw an email pop up from the Dinner Date producer that read:
Been trying to ring you but it’s been dialling on a foreign tone, we really want you on the show, can you let me know your availability for filming and send over your menu options?
At this point I literally just had the shocked emoji going through my head. Up until now it all had been a bit of fun and never actually dawned on me that I would actually been on television, actually cooking for a complete stranger…note, I know how stupid this may sound. So, what does anyone do in a crisis? Whatsapp their mother of course!. An experienced cook for critical males (no offence Dad!) Mum immediately replied with a three course menu that she thought a man would like and that would suit my cooking abilities. Scallops to start, steak for main and sticky toffee pudding for dessert. Unfortunately, however Dinner Date weren’t so impressed. While they liked the food they said the guy I was going with didn’t like fish so I couldn’t do scallops and steak wouldn’t take long enough to cook…back to square one. A lot of back and forth later we agreed on, poached duck egg with asparagus wrapped in Parma ham to start, on the condition it was definitely duck egg (I’ll come back to this later) roast beef for main and chocolate fudge cake for pudding.
I then spent the rest of the holiday fantasying with my sister about the possible people my date could be, how I should act on the date and just generally how famous I would of course become after appearing on such a huge show. When I returned home it wasn’t long before the film date, but annoyingly I had to keep whom I told about the show to a minimum due to the contracts etc – who knew Dinner Date was serious? Having just had a week off work also meant I had a lot of stuff to catch up on so my pre-date beauty preparation wasn’t exactly what I wouldn’t have wanted. This meant when it came to the first set of filming, where they do the ‘about you’ bit I literally had came straight from work to this dress shop in Southsea where they filmed me trying on and strutting in all these dresses – yes this was as awkward as it sounds. I then had to do the little interview thing again where they picked up on something I’d said in ‘relaxed’ audition to the cute camera man where he’d asked me if I had any quirks. Somehow, me saying I sometimes know who is going to call me had turned into I am full blown psychic which led them to asking me what my psychic powers were telling me my date was going to be like. Again, yes this made me look as crazy as it sounds.
That night after all the awkward dress fun I had to try and teach myself how to poach duck eggs for my starter. Frantically, whatsapping friends for tips and Googling for youtube videos, I eventually did two that looked vaguely edible.
The next day I was ‘working from home’ and thankfully Mum had come to my rescue yet again with all my ingredients and some last minute advice just before the producer and camera man arrived all set for filming. Luckily, like all of the Dinner Date crew the producer and cameraman were absolutely lovely and after turning my flat upside down to fit in all their gear, we began cooking and filming! The cooking was fairly hiccup free, apart from me mixing up mustard powder with mustard in my dressing and forgetting to remove the cellophane from my roast beef.Before long the only thing left to do was for me to get ready and it was then when then when the nerves REALLY started to set in. “okay, Alana, he’s outside”
Omg, so I’m actually going to have a stranger in my house. How do I play this? Is it a date? What if I actually like him? Oh god! Quivering like Bambi on ice I then tottered in my ridiculously high heels to answer the door where I was pleased o see a smiley face and again my fears instantly subsided. We did have a weird awkward kiss on the cheek hello – I mean this was still a bloody weird situation after all! Before I walked him into my flat.
We then did the standard Dinner Date drinks in the garden, where the date traditionally gives the date the present. Before giving me my present my date said to me, now I got you this because I know you’re quite cheeky because of your menu title. Now, remember the producer being quite keen that I use duck eggs? Well this was because the menu title they created was ‘Fancy a duck?’ see what they did there? So based on this menu title, my date thought it was appropriate to give me a candy thong. It was at this point I knew I was going to have to get, drunk, very drunk. So, I quickly downed two vodkas and anyone that knows me will know that this is literally all it takes to get me more than slightly tipsy.
We then had to do the bit where we say what we think of our date. Feeling tipsy and just having been given a candy thong, I’m not really sure what I said here but I think it was something along the lines of nice, but not really for me. I then drunkenly poached some eggs, before somehow convincing myself that I was in fact in touch with the spirits – there was only one spirit I was in touch with that night and it was Smirnoff. The producers then thought because my date was a personal trainer it would be a good idea to do some press ups – cue lots of innuendos and lots of pervy looks from me, hey his gifts might have been rubbish but he did have a good body.
By the time it got to the main, my timings were totally out of whack, so I have no idea what it actually tasted it like, but he seemed to like it – whether that was out of politeness or fear I might do some sort of exorcism if he didn’t I don’t know. Thankfully, the pudding had been sorted when I was sober and that was good – even if I do say so myself and all in all I think the date did end of a sweet note.
Saying goodbye I was absolutely exhausted after all the cooking and candy thong madness, so again when it came to giving him his star rating I really can’t remember what I said. And while it might not have been an epic romance, it was definitely an experience I’ll never forget and my poached eggs have been better!