Looking for something that’s here for a good time AND a long time? These are the series that are bound to tick all the boxes on the box
By Laura Rutkowski, Staff Writer
If you’re tired of flicking through channels looking for your next reality dating show to watch, we’ve compiled a select list for you to check out. Think of us as your television matchmakers! Read the cheeky bios and then decide which profiles you would swipe left or right on.
They’re all great catches, so we have no doubt you’ll want to spend the night with each of them – but these won’t be one-night stands, you’ll want to call back on them the next day and the next and the next…
Find it in Apps & Games > ITV Hub
If you’re missing Love Island, series 1-6 will be available in Apps & Games > ITV Hub from Monday 1 February. Or, if you fancy something new, The Cabins will definitely act as the TV version of a hot chocolate on a cold night, but as The Guardian pointed out, it’s more First Dates Hotel than Love Island. And unlike Love Island, there are same-sex couples, which is a much-needed upgrade, and no opportunities to leave their partner for someone new.
Matched couples meet for the first time at their holiday home – a cabin located in picturesque Cumbria. After spending a full day together, and navigating the awkward sleeping arrangements conversation (will one be confined to the pull-out bed or will they both share the bed-bed?), they decide whether to “check-in” for another night or to pack their bags.
Mondays, 6pm, ITV2 /HD (CH 115/176). Also available in Apps & Games > ITV Hub
Love Bites is a blend of Dinner Date and Ready Steady Cook, where three individuals cook a three-course meal side by side using the same ingredients to wow their date. The singleton then chooses one of them to date based on their culinary skills alone. Just like Dinner Date, we know the food doesn’t really matter – it’s all about how things heat up outside of the kitchen.
Watching Scarlett Moffatt present is part of the fun too, as she giggles her way through explaining the dishes and advises when not to eat something, like a piece of suspiciously pink chicken. Hey, we never said the participants could cook well.
Monday 25 January, 9pm, E4/HD(CH 106/145). Also available in Apps & Games > All 4
Last year, a batch of stars searched for socially distant love on Celebs Go Virtual Dating. Now, seven new famous faces have bubbled up with their potential matches in a mansion in Surrey, which means no chance of ghosting and a big win for the proximity principle (where people form relationships with those physically near to them).
Dating experts Paul C Brunson and Anna Williamson, assisted by junior client co-ordinator Tom Read Wilson, are on hand to help DJ Tom Zanetti, reality stars Sophie Hermann, Curtis Pritchard and Chloe Ferry, actors Kimberly Hart Simpson and Karim Zeroual and businessman Wayne Lineker find luuuurve.
Sunday 31 January, 10pm, E4/HD (CH 106/145). Also available in Apps & Games > All 4
This format promises more drama than you can shake a coconut at. Couples arrive very much together and talk about being on the same page about “testing” their relationship or going on a “journey” so they can come out “stronger than ever.” It sounds good in theory, but this TV show, which is essentially just the Casa Amor bit of Love Island (in other words: the best bit), typically spells disaster for the couples.
The pairs travel to the Hawaiian island of Maui, where they separate and begin living with a group of singles of the opposite sex to see whether they’ll be tempted. They’re also shown out of context videos of their significant other in situations that can easily be misinterpreted. At the end of the series, they regroup to decide whether to stick it out, split up or even leave with someone else! Somehow, we think Ross’ excuse of “We were on a break” isn’t gonna cut it here.
Coming to Sky One/HD (CH 110/109) in February
First dates are nerve-wracking for the people going on them, but for those of us watching from home, we can enjoy cringing, laughing, “oohing” and “awwing” along. When you throw Britain’s most outspoken comedians into the mix, make sure you grab the popcorn as they offer up their commentary! They’re saying everything you’re thinking as you’re screaming at your screen: “KISS HER!” or “THROW YOUR DRINK ON HIM!”
Across the pond, there have already been two seasons of Dating: No Filter, so we’re looking forward to a British sense of humour lending itself to the good, the bad and the ugly in the dating world.
Series 6, weekdays, 7.30pm, E4/HD (CH 106/145). Also available in Apps & Games > All 4
The UK version pales in comparison to the Aussie edition – we just don’t do it like they do Down Under! There are only about four episodes in each of our series, whereas Married At First Sight Australia series 6 (the latest to air in the UK) spans a whopping 40! It’s an explosive one, and all we’ll say is that some people feel they would be better matched with someone else’s other half.
Experts put people together based on compatibility factors and then the couples meet for the first time at the wedding ceremony (which is NOT legally binding in the Australian version) – exchanging names and then vows. They have eight weeks to bond and get to know each other, while enduring several relationship tests, like living together and meeting friends and family. At the end of each week, a commitment ceremony takes place, where each member of the couple decides to stay or leave. If one of them decides to stay and one of them decides to leave, they must still continue trying to make it work for another week until the next ceremony.
Tuesdays, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/141), 10pm. Also available in Apps & Games > All 4
For series 16, instead of pairing lovers in London, the show is now making matches in Manchester. A new batch of singletons, young and old, step foot inside cocktail bar and restaurant The Refinery in the hopes of finding a connection. Or, maybe they just really, really want to have a sit-down meal like we used to in the good old days, and for that, we wouldn’t blame them.
The series began filming last March, but had to halt production due to COVID-19. Filming resumed in September with a closed set, where the general public weren’t allowed to dine in the restaurant. Rigorous testing, self-isolation and a bubble system meant Cupid’s arrow could continue to strike (safely). Does that mean they were allowed to kiss? YES! As Fred Sirieix would say, “Ooh la la!”
First Dates: Teens, featuring participants aged 16-19, will air this year with six episodes. The dates will also be filmed in The Refinery.
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