As the reality dating show returns for series 2 tonight, we spoke to Tara, who told us what it was like opening up her home to five men, and Chris, who was one of them…
By Laura Rutkowski, Staff Writer
Despite its name, this show is not about ordering takeaway from fast food chain Five Guys once a week – the concept is even juicier than a burger and sweeter than a milkshake. In every episode, a different woman invites five potential male suitors to live with her for a week. Each morning, she has to send one of them packing until there are just two men standing. After a romantic meal for three, she makes her final decision on who she wants to date.
Acting as a tonic to instant dating app culture and reality dating shows that feature people who clearly need no help finding love or lust (guys with eight-packs, we’re looking at you), Five Guys A Week returns tonight for series 2. Dinner dates, nights out, domestic chores and meeting the woman’s friends and family are all packed into the very busy schedule.
First up, we meet Tara, a 32-year-old business consultant from Halifax, West Yorkshire, who lives with her German Shepherd Kaiser and has been single for seven years. The process is one she took very seriously in her hunt for Mr Right. “I didn’t go on the show to just be on TV – I genuinely wanted to meet somebody,” she says. “I knew there were five guys walking through my door that could potentially be my next boyfriend.”
Tara’s five guys include a haulage worker, a shopping centre manager, an analytics manager, an oven-cleaning technician and 37-year-old photographer Chris from Southampton. Chris is a sucker for a Yorkshire lass as he’s often in the area for work and believes love could always be just around the corner. “I’m a bit like Meat Loaf,” he says. “I’d do anything for love.” As the trailer for the series shows, that includes making a chocolate tart in an attempt to woo Tara.
While you’ll have to tune in tonight to see whether Tara and Chris hit it off, in the meantime, we grabbed them for five minutes to fire off five questions to find out what it was really like to take part in Five Guys A Week.
1. What was it like having five guys living with you?
“It sounds amazing, but actually there’s a lot of stuff that you don’t consider. The reality is you’ve got five guys using your bathroom. I took them around the house and explained, “This is the toilet. Keep it clean. Put the toilet seat down.” My house isn’t the biggest, so we were all kind of on top of each other – not literally. I couldn’t just get up and go to the toilet when I wanted to, because there might have been somebody in the bathroom, or the guys [would be] queuing to use the shower.
“I had three guys up in my attic room and two downstairs. I’ve got a spare bedroom, which has a double bed in. One of them slept in there and the rest were all on air beds. I expected absolute carnage, but what I got was actually five quite tidy, clean guys that respected my house.”
2. How did you prepare for their arrival?
“I’m a compulsive list maker. I had a list that I called “Operation TV.” I went around every single room and was kind of anal about it, like if there was a bit of paint that needed touching up. My mum came around and we just made sure everything was tidy. Then I realised the stuff you think people are going to notice, they don’t see anyway because of the way the show was filmed and the blurring of the background.”
3. Did you notice the cameras?
“They were very well hidden and not in our faces, but there were cameras everywhere in the house, including in the bathroom, which were rolling 24/7. On the first day, I was really aware of them, but once the guys started coming in, it felt really natural. The whole point was that these guys experienced my life as normally as we could possibly make it.”
4. How did you find the decision-making process?
“I found it quite emotional, because I spent so much time with these guys, but I didn’t actually want any of them to go, so when I had to choose to let one go [each day], it was really tough for me. I didn’t have long to make decisions, which was really difficult as well. Not only were these five guys fighting for my attention and I was putting them in different environments to see how they reacted, but they obviously were trying to bond with the boys as well.
“I really struggled with the final decision. At one point, my head was winning, at one point, my heart was winning. I am very much a 50/50 girl. I’m very practical, very logical, but then I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m very much about gut instincts. You’ll have to see what I go with – head or heart.”
5. What did you learn from the experience?
“Watching the episode back, I saw the journey I went through over the week and how much I changed. I’ve always been quite guarded and a closed book, because I’m scared of getting hurt. It made me think about a lot of past experiences, it brought back a lot of memories. It encouraged me to be a bit more open and honest with my feelings.
“The worst that can happen if you put yourself out there and tell somebody you like them is they say they don’t like you and you get rejected. It might dent your pride a little bit, but you’ve not actually lost anything. I learnt I can’t go through life with the barriers up constantly – I have to let them down sometimes. Otherwise I’ll be single forever, right?”
1. Why did you decide to bring Tara a chocolate tart?
“It’s nice to turn up with something that’s been done on a personal level. Anyone can buy flowers, anyone can buy a bottle of wine, but not everyone can make a chocolate tart from scratch and then drive it 250 miles on the M1 on a bed of ice in their car. It’s based on a very simple chocolate ganache recipe with a secret twist. Each woman that I prepare this tart for will get her own unique liqueur added to the mix.”
2. How did living with Tara make the dating experience different?
“It certainly cut out any kind of small talk. I was very aware of things that I probably wouldn’t normally be, like the type of food she ate, what she had in her kitchen cupboards. When we were putting the bin out, there was a slug stuck to it, and Tara was a bit anxious to touch it. I thought, in an act of chivalry, I’ll remove the slug. You wouldn’t do that on a first date in a bar, would you?”
3. What about living with the four other guys?
“It was a bit like being in the army. They were all lovely, but living with random men was the only thing I wasn’t so comfortable with during the experience. There’s obviously competition involved, assuming that the five guys in there are all feeling that way about that woman. Like all dating situations in this world, you’re not always going to fancy the person. If you say alpha male, that’s not me. I tended to keep myself to myself.”
4. What makes Five Guys A Week different to other dating shows?
“The tone of the show is very lovely. You could tell that everyone, myself included, was genuinely hopeful and looking for love, as cringey as that sounds. The age group was slightly older, like 30 to 40. It’s not like Love Island. The people in there weren’t there to be players. What makes it fascinating viewing is that it’s people that are maybe thinking, “The window of opportunity is closing now, I really should meet someone.” That’s what makes it more real. Nothing is staged.”
5. What’s your top dating tip after this experience?
“Don’t be yourself, be a slightly diluted version of yourself at first. Everyone’s got weird quirks, and especially in that situation where you’re living in the house with someone, you need to slowly introduce yourself to them. Let them fancy you first and then admit that your car number plate is about KFC. To my disheartenment, when I watched my episode, as I drove to Tara’s house, it was blurred out. It’s meant to read PIG KFC, because of my love of fried chicken.”
When is Channel 4’s Five Guys A Week on TV?
Five Guys A Week airs on Channel 4 HD (CH 104/141) on Fridays at 10pm, with the first episode screening on Friday 18 September. It is also available in Apps & Games > All 4.
The five-part series will subsequently air every week until Friday 9 October.
TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.
HD: HD TV set, V HD Box, TiVo box or Virgin TV V6 connected with HDMI cables required for HD channels. Number of inclusive HD channels depends on package.
Catch Up TV: Catch Up TV content available for up to 7 days or up to 30 days after broadcast, depending on content.
Interviews: Any opinions expressed in interviews are those of the interview subject and not those of Virgin Media.