We know Manchester provides a romantic backdrop for burgeoning relationships, and now the rest of the UK will see that, too, with news that the hit TV show First Dates is moving to Manchester when filming begins on the new series later this year.
Channel 4 has just revealed the BAFTA-winning series has been recommissioned for a new run of 30 episodes for its 16th series, but this time the action will move from London to a new Manchester restaurant, which is yet to be unveiled.
Moving the UK’s most romantic show to Manchester is part of production company Twenty Twenty’s commitment to the UK regions, alongside Channel 4’s commitment to their new regional hub in Bristol where the First Dates casting team will be based, as well as the story editing team and members of the post-production team.
“We’re very excited to be taking our flagship dating series to the regions,” says Leanne Klein, managing director of Twenty Twenty.
“We’ve already begun tapping into the fantastic local talent pool in Bristol from where we are putting together our new team of casters and date editors. And with the move of the First Dates restaurant [to Manchester], we’ll have the chance to expose our daters to a brand-new experience with a few exciting new tweaks to the much-loved format.”
Since first airing in 2013, First Dates has become one of the UK’s best-loved and most watched series, winning a string of awards and nominations, and launching local versions in over 20 territories around the world.
The premise is brilliantly simple – romantic hopefuls meet at a restaurant to (hopefully) enjoy a first date.
It’s something that happens up and down the country every night of the week, but with cameras following each encounter, we get to watch every amorous, cringe-inducing and awkward moment as the dates unfold, and find out what they really think of each other at the end of the evening.
“This move is so great for Channel 4 Bristol and Manchester,” notes Danny Horan, head of factual at Channel 4.
“We’re thrilled to be investing in new diverse talent with Twenty Twenty. This is just one part of Factual’s commitment to expand out of London at scale.”
Madonna Benjamin, commissioning editor at Channel 4, adds: “We can’t wait to work with Twenty Twenty to continue building on the success of First Dates. The new restaurant location and regional production base provide exciting opportunities for the series.”
As ever the charismatic Maitre d’ Fred Sirieix will return to oversee proceedings.
He and his team have helped match up hundreds of couples in that time, leading to a host of engagements, marriages and even a baby.
Such is the popularity of the show that a spin-off, First Dates Hotel, was launched in 2017, seeing daters travel to luxurious hotels in France and Italy in the hope of finding their soulmate.
First Dates will return for a brand-new series on Channel 4 and All 4 in the coming months, filmed at the restaurant in London, before the new Manchester restaurant is unveiled at a later date.
If you’re looking for love, then you can apply to take part in First Dates below.