Do you like food? Do you also like watching people failing to bond over food? Then Dinner Date is the show is for you.
I started watching Dinner Date when I was ill, and could do nothing but lie on the settee watching ITV Ovaries. Dinner Date came on and, as a regular watcher of Come Dine With Me, this got my attention. Dinner Date is Come Dine With Me if all the contestants were expected to have sex at the end. Also, Dinner Date has its own Come Dine With Me-style piss-taking narrator, in the form of ITV’s Dave-Lamb-with-a-fanny Natalie Casey. What’s not to love?
Here’s how the show works: a man or woman, usually called Gaz or Kelli, goes to three people’s houses for a free meal because they can’t be bothered to cook. They then reward the person who makes the nicest meal by having sex with them, at least in theory (more on that later).
The contestant chooses their three dates from five potential menus, which means that two people aren’t even good enough to get to cook their dinner. Imagine being those guys. Usually, the contestant will choose the food they like, which is sane enough. But in order to try and make their menus stand out more, the potential dates will litter their menus with terrible puns and will give their food posh sounding names.
A typical Dinner Date menu is as follows:
My oh my: It’s fish on a bed
For the love of God! Jus of lamb with a cocktail potato near a vegetable tribute
In a galaxy over there: Biscuit shadows on a chocolate mist
This seems like an awful lot of faff just to get a prawn cocktail.
There’s usually a bit of a VT about today’s freeloader, which attempts to show the viewer that they are sentient and have a personality. This usually fails, because it shows them doing things like sitting at a desk, or sleeping, while their disembodied voice says “I’m dead bubbly me!”
Once the stupidest menus have been chosen, the show introduces the three dates, who are all good with a whisk. Nine times out of ten, the dates’ videos will show them exercising in a gym.
Do you see what I mean about the menus?
Then the show pays a bit of lip service to the actual cooking, even though we’re only watching to see if they get off with each other at the end. However, the cooking bit does sometimes give us an insight into some of the more unusual contestants’ psyches. For example, here we have Matt discussing his ‘peppers/traffic lights’ theory. He explains that he’s going to offer his date a choice of red, yellow and green peppers, and the one she picks will indicate how keen on him she is, based on him deciding that “red is for stop, green is for go” etc. Never mind the fact that this is only in his head and his date knows nothing about his mad plan. I wish I was making this up.
Also, sometimes the cooking part is really good because they drop stuff on the floor, or set fire to their house. But mostly they’re just cooking, so unless they do something like the mad traffic light thing, go and make a cup of tea during this bit.
Next it’s time for the dates! If you’re interested, here’s how traffic light man’s date is going. She picked yellow:
These manage to be the world’s most boring dates and the world’s most awkward dates all at once. They’re brilliant to watch if, like me, you’re nosy but aren’t that keen on people. Typical date conversations include the following:
“If you were a tree, which tree would you be?”
“I go to the gym every day. Do you go to the gym every day?”
“What’s your favourite colour? My favourite colour is beige.”
“Hello how are you. I am fine.”
There are a few exceptions to this formula. Sometimes a particularly wacky individual will organise a ‘fun activity’ for their date. This might be karaoke or hula-hooping, but probably not stuff like helping to re-grout their bathroom. They save that for the second date.
Then they are ordered to kiss each other and say “It was lovely to meet you”, before going their separate ways and discussing each other’s faults with the cameraman. The dates get to rate the contestant out of 3, which seems a bit low but there you go. If I was doing this show, I’d give people the option to rate each other out of 1000. That way, if you hate someone you can give them 1 or 2 out of 1000, and that’ll teach them to serve coleslaw.
The entire process repeats twice more, and then the contestant must pick one of the three to take on a second date.
This is the part where you should pay attention.
If, at any point on one of the three dates, the contestant says “I really fancy them”, this is the one they’re going to pick. I don’t care how light and fluffy the meringues were. Let’s face it – with Dinner Date the food is kind of irrelevant. I think they only have cooking on it because otherwise it would just be watching two people sitting on a sofa trying to get off with each other. That’s probably not allowed during the day. If you’re attracted to someone, it wouldn’t matter if they gave you a tube of toothpaste and a spoon and said “Here you go, knock yourself out.”
The winner is whisked away to, I dunno, a Harvester, while the two losers answer the door to find a microwave meal waiting for them. A lot of the time they look quite relieved at this.
The show finishes with an update on everyone who took part. It’s usually something like ‘Brendan is still single’, ‘Marilyn and Carl went on a second date but then fucking hated each other’, ‘Nigel hasn’t stopped crying since his chilli went wrong’.
The next time you find yourself lying on the settee unable to move except to eat all the food in the house, I’d suggest giving Dinner Date a watch. But having a lot of food within reach is important, like it is when watching any cooking show. Although I still maintain the cooking bit is an afterthought, and that Dinner Date is really just a show about potential shagging. After all, if you could fall in love with someone because of their food, I’d have married Colonel Sanders a long time ago.