Channel 5 have finally confirmed that former ITV Saturday night ratings banker Blind Date is to return to television screens.
“The show has been updated for the 21st century, as a new generation of love-seeking characters compete against each other to hook up with their potential love match, hiding behind the legendary sliding panel.” – Channel 5
The series, produced by London Weekend Television, became the nation’s favourite match-making show, during its eighteen years on air. Originally fronted by the late singer and television personality Cilla Black, the new version will see her close pal comedian Paul O’Grady take on the hosting duties.
The revamped and updated Blind Date will see contestants unable to swipe left, send a selfie or message back as the class of 2017 must break with modern day dating convention and rely on their basic instincts to find the chemistry.
Whilst paying respect to the traditions and family appeal of the programme with the legendary sliding panel, three question format and live studio audience, Blind Date will be updated to reflect the present day, whilst maintaining the humour, charm and cheekiness of the original show. Blind Date will also welcome LGBT contestants for the first time and there’ll be thematic twists which will breathe new life into the series.
It isn’t the first Cilla Black series to undergo the update treatment, Surprise! Surprise! which the Liverpool-born Cilla hosted from 1984 to 2003* was revived by ITV with Holly Willoughby as host in 2012. The series saw Cilla make a one-off guest appearance on the new version in 2013, *while following Black’s death a previously un-aired 2003 produced edition of Surprise! Surprise! was transmitted on ITV3 in 2015. Black had last regularly fronted the ‘dreams come true’ series in 2001.
Paul O’Grady became a television icon as vulgar drag star Lily Savage, fronting shows such as Viva Cabaret for Channel 4 and Blankety Blank for BBC One. He later ditched the dress and hosted his own chat show for ITV and Channel 4. Paul has also worked for UKTV on a series looking at the Bob Monkhouse archive and is well known for his love of animals. In 2013 he presented a celebration of the music and television work of Cilla Black as she marked 50 years in showbiz.
“Blind Date is an incredibly special family show which brought laughter, tears and joy to TV viewers throughout the land. I am honoured to present the brand new series and, after speaking to Channel 5, I know the series is in safe hands. I can’t wait to see if we can find love.” – Paul O’Grady
Viewers who are single and looking for love are now being sought by Channel 5 for the show. Anyone wanting to be considered for Blind Date should contact So Television by emailing BlindDate@sotelevision.co.uk. The deadline for applications is midnight on 24th March 2017.
Blind Date Facts
- The series had been aborted before Cilla Black was cast in the host with the most role, due to the television regulator finding it ‘too sexy’ for ITV. The dropped pilot was fronted by Duncan Norvelle.
- The first edition aired on the 30th of November 1985. The series was produced (at the soon to close) Southbank Studios of LWT, Kent House, latterly known as The London Studios.
- The first couple to marry was that of Sue Middleton & Alex Tatham (Pictured above with Cilla centre) who met on the show in 1988 and married in 1991. They marked 25 years together in 2013.
- In 1997 the show hit the headlines when Cilla Black turned detective and ‘outed’ a ‘fake contestant’ on the programme. Nicola Gill who worked for a magazine was attempting to go undercover and see how the show really worked pretending to be a secretary in order to get on the series.
- Cilla stunned her ITV bosses in 2003 when she quit live on air. The fall out saw an already recorded edition of Surprise Surprise kept in the vaults un-transmitted. It wasn’t until after Cilla’s death in 2015 when it was finally broadcast as one of several tributes to the singer and presenter.
- For Comic Relief in 1993 Cilla hosted a special edition of Blind Date on BBC One which featured Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean looking for love.
- Cilla hosted a mini-episode of the dating game in 2013 as part of her One and Only anniversary special which celebrated her music and broadcasting career as it reached its fifth decade. The ITV show was hosted by pal Paul O’Grady.
- The famous ‘sliding panel’, which stopped the dates from seeing each other, was manually operated by a stage hand and pulled out of view by a wire crank.