Blind Date first hit the screens in the mid 1980’s and managed to stick around for almost 20 years, and was hosted by the UK’s favourite Liverpudlian, Cilla Black, for the entire duration. It marked the beginning of Saturday nights line-up of shows on ITV, and only came to an end when Cilla herself, realising the shows waning popularity, decided to announce on air that she was going to give up the show at the end of the current series, much to the surprise of the TV company!
The show centred around the idea of Cilla being a kind of match maker, sorting out blind dates for the contestants. Three contestants were sat on stools on one side of a movable wall. A single contestant of the opposite sex was then brought on to choose between the three potential dates, but they were only allowed to ask three questions to each of the contestants. These were normally laced with innuendo, and the reply was similarly full of double entendres. The Carry On team would have been proud! It would normally go something like this:-
Contestant: “I’m a bit of a whizz in the kitchen, but what kind of dish would you say you’re most like?”
Date 1: “I’d say I’m most like a curry, because I’m hot and spicy”
Date 2: “A jam doughnut, because I’m soft and cuddly with a sweet surprise in the middle”
Date 3: “I’m like a cheese burger, thick and meaty and fills the hole in your stomach”
All of this would be accompanied by the audience oooohing as if their lives depended on it, whilst Cilla smiled at the camera and pretended everything was completely innocent. After the three questions were asked, “Our Graham” the voice over man then gave a recap of the potential dates, working in quotes from their answers to add further to the layers of double meanings we had so far endured. The contestant then had to decide which of the three they wanted to go on a date with, whereupon Cilla would first introduce the two dates who had been turned down, before the chosen one stood behind the wall which slid away to allow the two blind daters to finally see each other.
The prize for the lucky couple was to go away on a date somewhere, chosen from one of three envelopes which each held a different location for the date. The couple would then be sent off stage, theme music ringing in their ears, to begin their date. Early on in the series this was normally something UK based, such as going ice skating or visiting a stately home, but as the years passed the date locations gradually got more impressive to be something like visiting the Eiffel Tower.
Whilst most of the show was devoted to the selection of dating partners (first a bloke choosing between three girls, then a girl choosing from three blokes) its other feature was watching the couples from the previous week come back and tell all about their date. Whilst the series did manage to unite some couples in matrimony, the usual response from the couples was that either they couldn’t stand the sight of each other, or that one of them had fallen in love whilst the other was in complete revulsion.
Blind Date really was a good example of car wreck TV, the kind of thing that you wouldn’t admit to watching, but somehow if it came on the TV you would get drawn in and be completely unable to switch over. Mind you, personally I would much rather be forced into watching Blind Date than Big Brother…